One year out from the approval of the first vaccines for COVID-19, these biomedical innovations have undoubtedly changed the course of the pandemic. But obstacles remain; among them are populations who distrust the vaccine and don’t want to get vaccinated for a host of reasons.
In an op-ed for Lancaster Farming, Dean Andrew Hoffman of the School of Veterinary Medicine addressed a particular subset of these holdouts: rural farmers, whose vaccination rates lag behind the general population. Hoffman did so by appealing to their conscientiousness in vaccinating their animals.
In the piece, titled, “We are more like herd animals than you may think when it comes to a pandemic,” Hoffman, a large animal veterinarian, writes, “As a veterinarian, I have always wondered, in light of a hesitancy to protect against the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus, why are we willing to take that risk upon ourselves and our families that we would certainly not take on for our livestock and poultry, or even our pets? It can only be concluded that we do not consider ourselves part of a herd, a view that is inconsistent with the way we live.”
Hoffman has been active in addressing the pandemic from his vantage point as a veterinary leader. Whether supporting research at Penn Vet on SARS-CoV-2, launching new collaborations around the University, or rolling up his sleeves to personally assist in health care efforts, Hoffman has taken a hands-on approach.
In a conversation with Penn Today, the dean discussed his motivation to do outreach on vaccine hesitancy, his efforts to equip veterinarians to be guardians of public health, and his own experiences as a volunteer vaccinator and medical assistant, part of a desire “to be out there helping” to directly address the pandemic.