Shocking Number of Front Line Health Care Workers Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine

Front line health care workers are refusing to take the COVID-19 China coronavirus vaccine in large numbers, with Ohio reporting a 60 percent refusal rate among nursing home workers. In southern California anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of health care workers are reported to have refused the vaccine.

Two weeks ago when the first vaccines were deployed, staff at Boston Medical Center held a video dance party that was posted online by BMC CEO Kate Walsh (Note: There are no reports on the refusal rate at BMC.)

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) spoke about the shocking vaccine refusal rate at a press conference Wednesday. Excerpt from the Ohio Capital Journal:

Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday said that a whopping 60% of nursing home workers who have been offered the vaccine have refused it.

…“Our bigger concern is the amount of staff who are not taking it,” DeWine said. “I don’t have data in front of me, but anecdotally, it looks like somewhere around 40% of staff at nursing homes are taking the vaccines and 60% are not taking it.”

Those figures are disturbing not only because of what they might say about attitudes toward the vaccines among the larger population. They also mean that most staffers will be unprotected as they move between the outside world and nursing homes filled with vulnerable people — some of whom will not be able to take the vaccine for medical reasons.

Even so, DeWine said he isn’t going to make anybody take it.

“I’m not going to compel anybody to do it, but I’m urging people to take that vaccine,” he said. “It’s very important,”

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday on the high rate of vaccine refusal among health care workers in Southern California (excerpt):

They are frontline workers with top-priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine, but they are refusing to take it.

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.

So many frontline workers in Riverside County have refused the vaccine — an estimated 50% — that hospital and public officials met to strategize how best to distribute the unused doses, Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said.

The vaccine doubts swirling among healthcare workers across the country come as a surprise to researchers, who assumed hospital staff would be among those most in tune with the scientific data backing the vaccines…

…The first allocations of the vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech arrived last week in Tehama County, home to 65,000 people.

Dr. Richard Wickenheiser, the Tehama County health officer, said 495 doses were first made available to healthcare workers at St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff, but the hospital “basically returned 200 back to us.”

The refusal rate among front line workers was foretold in a survey of New York City firefighters released in early December that showed about 55 percent would refuse the vaccine (via WNBC-TV):

More than half of the FDNY firefighters who answered an internal survey said they won’t take the coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available to first responders in a couple of weeks, the union representing New York City’s firefighters said over the weekend.

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said of the 2,053 firefighters surveyed in recent days, roughly 55 percent said they would not get the vaccine. Ansbro believes a large number of the firefighters resistant to the vaccine share concerns of trying a new vaccine or have limited information of its effectiveness.

“You also have to keep in mind that 35 percent of New York City firefighters have been infected and have overcome the virus. A lot of these members feel that they have antibodies and are not an at-risk category,” Ansbro said at a press conference Sunday.

The surveyed firefighters represent approximately a quarter of the union’s overall membership…

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