Differences Between Vaccine Hesitancy and Vaccine Refusal for Nursing Home Staff

As nursing home staff celebrate the opening of vaccine clinics for residents, some workers remain hesitant about getting the vaccine themselves. In fact, a national survey found that 15% of health care workers declined to receive the vaccine, and nursing home workers were more likely to refuse than hospital staff.


Public health officials are concerned by this trend, especially considering vaccines are one of the best ways to protect the elderly. Long-term care facilities accounted for 37% of COVID-19 deaths, despite only housing 1% of the U.S. population. In the first month of vaccinations, a CDC analysis of more than 11,000 long-term care facilities found that only 38% of staffers received at least one dose of the vaccine. Meanwhile, 78% of residents got at least one dose.


Despite their initial refusals, some nursing home staffers say they are simply hesitant. Some are concerned about long-term side effects, while others wonder how politics played into the vaccine development process. In communities of color, some staffers worry about the medical system’s historical mistreatment toward people of color. Other workers are concerned about how the vaccine might interact with medications or affect fertility.


Rather than pressuring these individuals into receiving vaccines, Dr. Kimberly Manning, a professor at Emory University School of Medicine who is part of the Moderna vaccine trial, understands the importance of addressing these concerns with empathy and working from there.

Some nursing homes are providing incentives, such as gift cards or parties, to persuade their staff to get vaccinated. Many facilities are also doing everything they can to educate workers about the vaccine and bringing in doctors and pharmacists to answer questions.


So far, at least one nursing home chain in the U.S., Atria Senior Living, has announced it will require all employees to be vaccinated. Other facilities are hoping to lead by example. Stewart Reed, administrator for the Brian Center/Cabarrus, anticipates staffers who initially declined the vaccine will see their vaccinated peers are fine and eventually consent to be vaccinated themselves.


Read the full article from Kaiser Health News.

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