Vaccination Fears: Why Are More Healthcare Professionals Not Taking COVID-19 Vaccines?



Note: This is the fifth in a series of stories about concerns from people hesitant to get COVID-19 vaccination. Read previous installments at

Frontline health workers were first in line when COVID-19 syringes became available in December, but surveys show that healthcare professionals may also be hesitant about vaccinations, leaving some vaccine concerns to question whether loved ones of the health professionals something the rest of us don’t know.

In early March, 52% of frontline health workers said they received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 42% said they received both doses – meaning half of all health workers reported Frontline Stay Unvaccinated According to a survey of frontline health workers conducted in April by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A separate survey of 160 rural hospital leaders conducted by the Chartis Center for Rural Health between March 12 and April 15 found that nearly half of respondents said between 21% and 50% of their staff had chosen Not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

“When asked why health care workers oppose a COVID vaccine, the majority – 44% – cited ‘a matter of personal choice,'” according to the survey published in industry publication Fierce Healthcare.

“Another 31% reported lack of confidence in vaccines,” the Fierce Healthcare article said.

This week, the Times Free Press addressed some of the most common questions about COVID-19 vaccine safety, starting with: “How Can COVID-19 Vaccines Be Safe When Development Has Been Rushed?”; “What’s in a COVID-19 Vaccine?”; “How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?”; and “How common are adverse events and how do we know there will be no long-term effects from COVID-19 vaccines?”

In this final episode, we’re going to look at:

Question: If COVID-19 vaccines are so great then why aren’t they taking more health care workers?

Reply: Healthcare workers may experience the same reasons for vaccination hesitation as the general population, and many of the trends in vaccination among healthcare workers reflect differences in vaccination rates across the country.

The type of environment in which healthcare workers go to work, their education, political and religious beliefs, where they live, and their race and ethnicity can all influence their decision to vaccinate.

An ongoing research project by the Kaiser Family Foundation is tracking evolving public attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccinations. According to the foundation’s research, unvaccinated adults are usually younger, colored, Republican-influenced and less educated.

“But unvaccinated people are not a completely uniform group, with significant differences on purpose,” the report said. “Adults who want to ‘wait’ before getting vaccinated are more likely to be young and colored, while those in the ‘definitely not’ group are more Republican and live in rural areas.”

Dr. Matthew Kodsi, vice president of medical affairs at CHI Memorial Hospital, said health workers, like all humans, are not immune to what is happening in the community at large.

“We have [CHI Memorial] have done many vaccination campaigns in the community and we’ve seen our numbers go down since we did 2,000 in one day in March and now when we can do 20 at a time we jump up and down with excitement. “said Kodsi.” So everyone has these concerns, which unfortunately, in many cases, are due to misinformation. “

One of the biggest concerns he’s heard among women – who make up 76% of health workers according to the US Census – is the fear that vaccines will cause infertility “that has no scientific basis”.

“People might say, ‘Well you don’t know. We haven’t followed it in 10 years,'” he said. “It’s true, I’m not going to say we have long dates. But what we have is the science that says there is no medical reason to expect this. And there is data on people who are pregnant – tens of thousands “of the vaccinated people who are pregnant or more – and it shows no increased risk of miscarriage. So there is no reason to believe that this is a risk. “

Dr. Rupali Limaye, associate scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the reluctance to vaccinate in the African American community “is due not only to historical perceptions of medical experimentation, but also to current racism and discrimination issues related to the vaccine product yourself. Is the vaccine safe for blacks? Is it safe for people with diabetes etc? “

In the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 39% of black frontline health workers and 44% of Hispanic frontline health workers said they received a COVID-19 vaccine in early March, compared with 57 % of white healthcare workers.

In the general population and in healthcare, education is one of the strongest predictors of vaccine uptake.

Staff involved in diagnosing and treating patients, such as doctors and nurses, were the most likely to be vaccinated, according to the survey. 68% said they had at least one vaccination compared to those who help with patient care, e.g. Eating, cleaning, exercising and doing household chores. In the pool, 37% of those in need of care were vaccinated.

Employees in hospitals and outpatient departments reported the highest vaccination rates at 66% and 64% respectively at the beginning of March and stated that they had received a vaccination. However, the rates were lower for practice staff (52%) and nursing homes or assisted nursing facilities (50%).

One in four (26%) home nursing workers – a job that doesn’t require formal education and pays about $ 10 to $ 12 an hour – said they received a vaccine.

Kodsi said the hospital continues to educate both staff and the public about the safety of vaccines, and often the best tool to overcome hesitation is having an individual conversation with a person. He recalled speaking to a group of people at a recent vaccination meeting who were discussing whether or not to get vaccinated.

“We had a really good conversation. It took about 10 or 15 minutes, and then they felt comfortable getting the vaccine and did it,” Kodsi said. “The most important thing we can do as a system and as community and health workers is to make sure that whoever makes the decision whether or not to get the vaccine is making that decision with so much accurate information.

“We don’t want people to feel like we’re just telling them they need to get it,” he said. “We want to respect their concerns, address their concerns, and make sure they have the information they need so they can make the decision that is really best for them.”

Contact Elizabeth Fite at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ecfite.


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