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Why some eligible Mainers are opting out of the COVID-19 vaccine

While some people are patiently waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine, others are deciding not to get it

MAINE, USA — Jennifer Grenier, a 36-year-old woman from Auburn who has stage five kidney disease and is considered high risk, is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. But she's not getting it.

"I want to know more because they don't know how it affects kidney patients," Grenier said. 

Grenier added that she's not anti-vaccine, and if studies are done for people who have kidney disease she will get vaccinated.

"If they can just give me some type of reassurance that kidney patients won't have a bad reaction to it or any long-term effects I will definitely get it," she said.

While there's no data for kidney patients, in the vaccine clinical trials the vaccine was tested on people with other underlying health concerns including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, lung disease, asthma, and HIV, and the vaccine has been proven safe.

We asked other eligible Mainers why they are opting out of the COVID-19 vaccine. Among those concerned—women who are pregnant or nursing.

"Pregnancy in itself makes us more vulnerable to the virus," Dr. Paola Rinaldi-Whititham, OBGYN at Northern Light Health said. 

She added that she knows many pregnant women are concerned about receiving the vaccine but said she is recommending it to her patients.

"The American OBGYN association says any pregnant women should be allowed to receive the vaccine," she said.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah is encouraging Mainers to trust the science behind the vaccine.

When asked what he would say to people who are opting out based on lack of information he said, "what I would say to them first is what information would they like to have? What questions do they have that are outstanding that we or others can help them answer?"

He added that this process has been nothing but transparent.

"With which the development, study, evaluation, authorization, and now administration of the vaccine has been undertaken," he said in Tuesday's media briefing.

Shah said that there are resources available to answer people's questions on the Maine CDC, U.S. CDC, and FDA websites.

Watch the full Tuesday coronavirus briefing here: