The first COVID-19 vaccine shots are being administrated to healthcare workers across the US, which recorded the highest number of Coronavirus cases and deaths in the world. But a Houston hospital doctor said that half of his unit's staff don't want the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Despite clinical trials showing that the vaccine, approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use, is 95 percent effective, chief of critical care at Houston's United Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Joseph Varon, said some of the healthcare workers in his unit are not planning to take the shot.
"Yesterday I had a – not a fight, but I had a friendly argument with more than 50 percent of my nurses in my unit telling me that they would not get the vaccine," he told NPR. According to Dr. Varon, some of the healthcare workers, including many Latino and African American nurses, are skeptical about the vaccine's efficacy and are worried about unfounded side effects.
Fear of Harm
Pew Research Center revealed that skepticism in a vaccine against the Coronavirus caused disease is the highest among African Americans. But according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63 percent of healthcare workers said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. But inside the Houston hospital, the story is quite different.
As per Dr. Varon, the COVID-19 vaccination has become a political point for some of the hospital staff members. He said that most of the reasons why some of the nurses don't want to get the vaccine are politically motivated. "My discussions with them make me think the fact that [President] Trump is in charge of accelerating the process bothers them" said the doctor. Some of them think that "it's meant to harm specific sectors of the population", he added. However, Dr. Varon will continue to talk to the staff and show them scientific data to encourage them and remove all kinds of doubts from their minds regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
He also said that there is a misconception that emergency authorization means public health has already improved and many people are dropping their guards. He explained that a vaccine will work but it will take time and "it is going to be months and more months and probably even years before everyone gets vaccinated". The Houston doctor is also worried about a post-Christmas virus surge that he expects to be worse than what has been noticed as of now.