Health care workers are being prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, yet a high percentage number across the country are refusing to take them.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine disclosed that about 60 percent of the nursing home workers in his state have so far chosen not to get vaccinated. More than half of New York City’s EMS workers have shown skepticism. And now California and Texas are experiencing a high rate of health care worker refusals, according to reports.
An estimated 50 percent of front-line workers in Riverside County in the Golden State opted against the drug, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing public health officials. More than half of the hospital workers at California’s St. Elizabeth Community Hospital who were eligible to receive the vaccine did not, the newspaper. And in the Lone Star State, a doctor at Houston Memorial Medical Center told NPR earlier this month that half the nurses in the facility would not get the vaccine, citing political reasons (NY Post).
The excuse shared by the Texas nurses was echoed in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found 29 percent of health workers were “vaccine hesitant,” the Times reported. A nurse at a California hospital, who chose to not take the vaccine because she is pregnant, said her co-workers who chose the same path as she believe they don’t need the vaccine to make it through the pandemic.
At St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Tehama County, fewer than half of the 700 hospital workers eligible for the vaccine were willing to take the shot when it was first offered. At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one in five frontline nurses and doctors have declined the shot. Roughly 20% to 40% of L.A. County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine did the same, according to county public health officials (Yahoo News).
“I feel people think, ‘I can still make it until this ends without getting the vaccine,’” April Lu, a 31-year-old nurse at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, told the Times. A high percentage of vaccine refusal among not just health care workers, but the general population, could be problematic, Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch told the newspaper. “Our ability as a society to get back to a higher level of functioning depends on having as many people protected as possible,” said Lipsitch.
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS