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Transparency key in giving the public confidence to get COVID-19 vaccine, doctor says

With nearly half of U.S. adults saying they do not plan to get a vaccine, health experts are confident that number will shrink as more people are vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines could soon be happening in the U.S. as we await FDA emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine this week.

The distribution will start with health care workers and the most venerable before it is widely available to the public, but even when that happens many Americans say they will not get it.

As recently as September, nearly half of U.S. adults said they did not plan to get the vaccines. However, immunization experts expect that number to shrink.

KGW talked to NBC News Medical Contributor Dr. Kavita Patel about what could shift that initial reluctance. She expects a higher uptick in people getting the vaccine than anticipated.

She says about 20-million health care workers and nursing home residents and workers will be getting the vaccine very soon. That could have an impact on the rest of the population.

“We will be living proof about what the vaccine can do, what it promises,” Patel said. “Second, I think it’s critical that getting this vaccine gives you a little bit of sunlight into the future. We would still need to wear masks, because we don’t know if we can give the virus to someone else, but imagine the relief that comes when you think about the risks and not worrying so much about getting as sick from COVID-19.”

With at least two of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates requiring multiple doses, Dr. Patel says there will be a card issued in the U.S. to anyone who gets a vaccine so they can keep track of which vaccine was given and when.

The cards are part of vaccination kits developed by the CDC, the Department of Defense, and "Operation Warp Speed" and will be sent to medical providers and pharmacies.

However, there are some concerns about the process, and the idea of “vaccine passports.”

“I do think that this conversation about passports could have unintended consequences, in that, people who want to get the vaccine, but haven’t been able to, could be denied access to certain activities,” Patel said. “So, I think, as we implement these tech-forward solutions, we have to ensure that access to the vaccines is incredibly equitable for all populations.”

Moving forward Patel says transparency will be key in giving the public confidence in the safety and efficacy of any coronavirus vaccine.

“I think there’s a long list of questions that every American should ask and that we should receive answers to,” Patel said.

Dr. Patel suggests, if you have a concern, you should start a dialogue with your primary care physician about safety and side effects.