Doctor uses own doubts about vaccine to assure patients

Dr. Nathan Chomilo says being human is as important as data in talking to patients

A vial of a vaccine.
Hennepin County began vaccinating first responders with the county's initial shipment of the Moderna, Inc. COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 29, 2020.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2020

Dr. Nathan Chomilo put his arm where his doubts were and enrolled in the clinical trial for the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. He was skeptical about some aspects of the vaccine and figured it was one of the best ways to get his questions answered — or contribute to research that would answer his questions.

Dr. Nathan Chomilo
Dr. Nathan Chomilo, the state’s new Medicaid medical director.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services

Today, Chomilo, who is medical director for the state’s Medicaid program, is convinced that the vaccine is safe and effective.

But he also doesn’t hesitate to tell his patients that he had many of the concerns they share with him in clinic.

“We have to be human. We have to understand and acknowledge that there are reasons people have hesitation and that it’s OK for us to have our own hesitation, and then talk to people about how we work through that,” Chomilo said. “Inviting people into the conversation is really important, instead of preaching from a lectern saying, ‘This is best for you and if you don’t do it, you’re selfish.’”

He wrote about his experience for Sahan Journal, and spoke with MPR News host Tom Crann about it.

Click play on the audio player above to hear their conversation.

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