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Dr. Buttenheim Provides Testimony to House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Vaccine Science

alison buttenheim headshot
alison buttenheim headshot

Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, Associate Professor of Nursing and Health Policy and CHIBE’s Scientific Director, provided testimony on vaccine science to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on February 19, 2021.

As part of her testimony, Dr. Buttenheim provided 5 science-based recommendations that she hoped Congress would endorse, fund, and promote:

1. “Embrace the dual goal of vaccinating efficiently and equitably.”
“We have to be deliberate, intentional, and innovative in our approach to both tracking and achieving those complementary goals,” Dr. Buttenheim said.

2. “Fix the easy stuff.”
While hesitancy is a barrier to vaccination, Dr. Buttenheim noted that “hassle factors” can also deter people from getting vaccinated, even if they were initially excited to get the vaccine. Vaccine appointments should be easy to make and keep, for example.

3. “Keep doing the hard stuff even if it doesn’t scale.”
For those who may have concerns about the speed at which the COVID vaccines were developed or who may distrust the medical research establishment, one-on-one conversations with trusted peers can be an effective way to encourage vaccine uptake.

4. “Use fun and delight.”
Dr. Buttenheim pointed to the “Sleeves Up, NOLA” video created by the City of New Orleans as a great example of how to leverage fun and delight while encouraging vaccination.

5. “Fail fast, learn fast.”
Just as scientists tested hypotheses and conducted experiments to create the COVID-19 vaccines, we also need to use this approach to rigorously study vaccine acceptance, Dr. Buttenheim maintained. “Learning what works is critical,” she said.

See CNBC‘s coverage here: “Local health officials tell Congress U.S. needs more Covid vaccine doses and it needs to be easier to get the shots,” and The Hill’s coverage here: “House panels underscore vaccine obstacles for minority groups.”

Watch the committee meeting here or below, and read Dr. Buttenheim’s written statement here.

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