Officials Dismayed by Vaccine Hesitance Among Health Workers

The race to vaccinate California’s frontline health care workers is underway. But vaccine hesitance among medical staff is one development that has surprised public health officials.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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.

It’s not just California. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of health care workers were “vaccine hesitant.” Among the general population, that figure is actually lower (27%). If that kind of reluctance continues, it could spell a public health disaster, experts say.

“It’s certainly disappointing,” Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, told the Times. “But it’s not shocking, given what the federal administration has done over the past 10 months. ... Trust science. It’s about science, and reality, and what’s right.”