Much to the surprise of researchers, doctors and hospital administrators, a significant percentage of front-line healthcare workers are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to The Los Angeles Times, less than half of health care workers at St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Tehama County, only one in five at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, and only about 50% at Riverside County were willing to take the vaccine when offered.
Hospital administrators are left struggling to figure out what to do with the unused vaccine.
Although the scientific evidence backs up safety and efficacy of the vaccines, barring issues for those with severe allergic reactions to any of the ingredients, the issue for many comes down to doubt about side-effects, and the speed with which the vaccine was pushed through the process.
In reporting by the Times, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of healthcare workers nationwide were “vaccine hesitant,” a number just above that of the general population, at 27%.
“Even the name, Operation Warp Speed, draws some concern for people about the rush to push it through,” Dr. Medell Briggs-Malonson, an emergency medicine physician at UCLA Health who has received the vaccine told the Times.
In a still unfinished study of nearly 44,000 people, the FDA found the Pfizer vaccine to be safe and more than 90% effective across recipients of different ages, including older adults, races and those with health problems that put them at high risk from the coronavirus.
“It’s certainly disappointing,” Sal Rosselli, the president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers told the Times. “But it’s not shocking, given what the federal administration has done over the past 10 months. ... Trust science. It’s about science, and reality, and what’s right.”
At issue is reaching herd immunity. Without at least 70% of people vaccinated, the pandemic could continue on for years, and the healthcare system could continue to falter under the weight of surges.