The highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine has been met with hesitancy from the public due to concerns of the vaccine’s efficacy, and well as possible side effects.
Growing hesitation towards the vaccination is particularly dangerous to our society’s most vulnerable: frontline healthcare workers.
Less than a month ago, Pfizer and Moderna released two COVID-19 vaccines that were granted emergency use authorization. Since their release, officials have reported that many vaccine doses have been left in the freezer.
"I am definitely concerned that health care workers are electing to wait to get vaccinated," Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a briefing last week.
Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of New York City Health and Hospitals, said last week that "around 30%" of medical workers have so far opted out of vaccinations, according to ABC News.
Health care facilities around the country are now increasing their efforts to protect front-line workers.
Houston Methodist, a large flagship hospital in Texas that employs over 26,000 people, is offering employees a $500 "hope bonus" if they agree to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. About 60% of the hospital's employees have been vaccinated.
"This bonus is a thank you for your perseverance throughout a difficult 2020, as well as something to look forward to, to provide hope, during the next couple of challenging months," hospital president and CEO Dr. Marc Boom wrote to his employees. “Eligibility criteria will include getting a COVID-19 vaccination, fulfilling our obligation as health care workers to lead the community."
Similarly, Northampton County, in Pennsylvania, is offering employees at Gracedale, the county nursing home, $750 each to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
"What we were hearing, as we began preparing our employees for vaccinations," County Executive Lamont McClure told ABC News, "was that there was going to be a great deal of resistance to being vaccinated."
Vaccines have not been made mandatory at either location.