As many as 80 percent of health care workers at some hospitals and nursing homes are refusing or delaying getting vaccinated against coronavirus.
Only about 18 percent of workers at an Illinois veterans’ nursing home have gotten their first shots, while nearly all residents at the same home said ‘yes’ to the jab.
Staff, nurses and doctors in many states remain leery of the vaccines, concerned that there’s not enough proof vaccines are safe and reticent to be test subjects.
Hospital and care facility administrators have even tried bribing workers with free breakfast or raffle prizes in an effort to incentivize them to get the shot.
Nursing home staff seem the most reluctant among health care workers – even as higher rates of residents are willing to get COVID-19 vaccines.
It’s a worrying trend, especially in states that have inflexible plans for who gets vaccinated first. Health care workers have been put almost universally at the front of the line, and some stats are waiting to offer the shots to other groups until more health care workers are vaccinated.
To-date, just 6.25 million Americans have been vaccinated, according to tracking from Bloomberg News.
At this rate, it could take years for the US to reach herd immunity. In a race against coronavirus, which infecting some 250,000 Americans a day and yesterday killed a record 4,085 people, slow uptake could be deadly.
Health care workers are a surprising source of resistance to the vaccine, given that they have seen firsthand the death and misery inflicted by COVID-19 are refusing shots.
It is happening in nursing homes and, to a lesser degree, in hospitals, with employees expressing what experts say are unfounded fears of side effects from vaccines that were developed at record speed.
More than three weeks into the campaign, some places are seeing as much as 80 percent of the staff holding back.
‘I don’t think anyone wants to be a guinea pig,’ said Dr Stephen Noble, a 42-year-old cardiothoracic surgeon in Portland, Oregon, who is postponing getting vaccinated.
‘At the end of the day, as a man of science, I just want to see what the data show. And give me the full data.’
Alarmed by the phenomenon, some administrators have dangled everything from free breakfasts at Waffle House to a raffle for a car to get employees to roll up their sleeves. Some states have threatened to let other people cut ahead of health care workers in the line for shots.
‘It’s far too low. It’s alarmingly low,’ said Neil Pruitt, CEO of PruittHealth, which runs about 100 long-term care homes in the South, where fewer than three in 10 workers offered the vaccine so far have accepted it.
Many medical facilities from Florida to Washington state have boasted of near-universal acceptance of the shots, and workers have proudly plastered pictures of themselves on social media receiving the vaccine.