As COVID-19 cases rise across the US, authorities have decided to vaccinate healthcare workers first. But according to reports, an alarming number of medical staff are refusing to take the jab.
Dr. Shanti Akers, a pulmonologist at the Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany, Georgia, where many hospitals are at or near capacity, said, "I think my concern, however, is that there's a good portion of our staff that has chosen not to vaccinate and for many different reasons." Earlier this week, Mike DeWine, Ohio Governor said that 60 percent of the nursing home workers in the state chose not to get a vaccine shot.
In New York City, more than half of EMS workers have shown skepticism. Meanwhile, in California and Texas, a high number of medical staff members are refusing vaccination. Almost 50 percent of frontline workers in Riverside County in the Golden State opted against inoculation, according to local public health officials.
Why Are They Resisting Vaccination?
According to Dr. Akers, some of her colleagues think that the process was potentially rushed and there were not enough people involved in the trials. Survey also revealed that many people were concerned about how politics influenced the development of the vaccine.
A California nurse chose not to take a vaccine because she was pregnant. She said that her colleagues also chose the same path as they believed they did not need the vaccine shot to make it through the pandemic. April Lu, a 31-year-old nurse at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, said, "I feel people think, 'I can still make it until this end without getting the vaccine'."
In December, the chief of critical care at Houston's United Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Joseph Varon, said that some of the healthcare workers in his unit didn't want to take the shot. He added that some of these people, including many Latino and African American nurses, were skeptical about the vaccine's efficacy and worried about unfounded side effects.
Not only healthcare workers but also a high percentage of the general public is also refusing to take a vaccine against COVID-19, which killed over 347,700 people in the US alone. According to Marc Lipsitch, a Harvard epidemiologist, vaccine refusal could be problematic. "Our ability as a society to get back to a higher level of functioning depends on having as many people protected as possible," added Marc Lipsitch.