In an exclusive interview with NFID Medical Director, Robert H. Hopkins, Jr, MD, Infection Control Today® (ICT®) examines the crucial role of vaccination in preventing respiratory diseases during pregnancy. With a focus on diseases like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19, and seasonal influenza, they discuss the latest updates in vaccination recommendations for expectant mothers. Hopkins shares insights on evolving COVID-19 immunization guidelines for pregnant individuals, the impact of influenza vaccination on maternal and infant health, and the significance of RSV immunization during pregnancy. Additionally, he provides valuable guidance on effectively communicating the importance of vaccination to combat respiratory diseases.
NFID Medical Director, Robert H. Hopkins, Jr., MD
(Photo courtesy by Evoke Kyne)
ICT asked Hopkins: "What do you say to the people who don't want to get [the COVID-19 vaccinations]?"
“I start off by [asking], 'Can we have a conversation? Do you mind if I ask you what concerns you've heard about the COVID-19 vaccine? You tell me what concerns you've had because I want to understand where you're coming from.' And I want to continue to ask that question until I feel like I understand what your concerns are. Then I'm going to turn to 'What are the things that motivate you? What are the things that are important to you and your health? Is it your own personal health? Is it the health of your family? Is it the health of your co-workers?'"
NFID Medical Director, Robert H. Hopkins, Jr., MD:
“We're in a situation where we've had too much of the “I,” and too much of the “mine” group as opposed to “your” group. And we need to get back to that more of a culture of it's about the “we.” And all of us working together to improve the health of our society, from our youngest to oldest. And I think the more that we have conversations about why we're doing these things, why it's important, and that we do this out of love and care for each other rather than because it's being measured as a metric or because somebody else wants it done. I think we're going to have a lot more success.”
Hopkins continues: “Hopefully, there are still of us [who] are working, a number of us [who] are working with other people and not just working from home. But I come at it from the standpoint of [that] we know that we've lost millions of people across this world, and well over 2 million in the United States to COVID-19. I don't want you or your family to be in that group. I want you to have the COVID-19 vaccine like I have done myself, like my wife, all my children, and my parents have done; I want you to have that same level of protection for you. I want for us to be able to have this conversation and talk about what's important to you and talk about what your concerns are.
“That's what a relationship is with your health care provider and your physician. Yes, come at it from that direction. Because if we try to contradict somebody's beliefs, whether they're deeply held or whether they are something that they've read somewhere and just picked up. If you contradict someone, you've immediately thrown up barriers and made it more likely that they're not going to believe what you're saying; first of all, we need to come at people from a position of caring, trust, and encouragement, rather than a fist or a hand in the face.”
In the struggle to get the entire population vaccinated, Hopkins explains how so many people refuse to be vaccinated. “We're in a situation where we've had too much of the 'I' and too much of the 'mine' group as opposed to 'your' group. And we need to get back to that more of a culture of it's about the 'we.' And all of us working together to improve the health of our society, from our youngest to oldest. And I think the more that we have conversations about why we're doing these things, why it's important, and that we do this out of love and care for each other rather than because it's being measured as a metric or because somebody else wants it done. I think we're going to have a lot more success.”