Coronavirus Insights -- March 23, 2021: Frontline Vaccine Hesitancy


Dear Nutmeg Aspirin Community, 

While many people are beginning to exhale sighs of relief about a light at the end of the COVID tunnel, an interesting trend has emerged: some of the biggest COVID vaccine skeptics are the frontline workers themselves.

In this newsletter, we will focus solely on the mounting evidence that despite experiencing what’s felt like relentless COVID-19 deaths during the past year, not all healthcare workers are raising their hands to line up at the front of the COVID vaccine line. This is not just in the US, either; this trend is happening around the world.

It feels a bit like a curious predicament to listen to the echoes of “Trust Science,” “Trust Science,” “Trust Science” and to also listen to the people who are applying the science directly in their daily frontline work. What makes one doctor, nurse, or home health worker more trustworthy than another, when they all are supposed to utilize the scientific process through their practice?

The overwhelming mainstream message for the COVID vaccine relentlessly emphasizes how safe it is, how side effects are part of the normal immune response, and how fortunate those who get the vaccine are to be able to “roll up their sleeves and do their part.” But if we know that science is ever-evolving, how can we assign such conclusive statements to a warp-speed vaccine?

Whether the COVID vaccine is the most well-funded of all-time or had the most brilliant minds working on it matters not when there’s a lack of comprehensive data, simply due to the sheer speed of the roll-out. And can we trust the integrity of the data going forward if placebo participants are now vaccinated or people are interchanging the shots — first jab Pfizer, 2nd Moderna or vice versa? What about those side effects and adverse reactions; could they be foreshadowing future concerns that, if known, may muddy the risk/benefit analysis of getting the shot?

These questions aren’t just being asked by us holistically-minded black sheep; they’re obviously being asked by frontline workers too, as evidenced below. 

Let’s keep asking questions and respect those that are doing the same. Science has never been about sitting back and being quiet; it’s about the infinite evolution available to us when we dare to keep asking questions, testing hypotheses, and replicating results to have more trust in their validity. Science takes skepticism, a willingness to change, and — time. 


Many Frontline Workers Remain Hesitant to take the Covid-19 Vaccine

Via Washington Post
More than 4 in 10 health-care workers have not been vaccinated, Post-KFF poll finds

"More than 1 in 3 said they were not confident vaccines were sufficiently tested for safety and effectiveness."


Via Gallup
Front-line Workers No Keener Than Others to Get Vaccine

"The modest COVID-19 vaccine acceptance rates among healthcare workers and first responders are notable given that a much larger proportion of this group reported that they received a flu vaccine in 2019. Previous work has found that people who received a flu vaccine in the recent past were more likely to say that they would agree to a COVID-19 vaccination in the future. The relationship between past vaccination against the flu and willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is seen across occupations in the current study. However, while across most respondents and occupation groups, a higher percentage of people say they will get the COVID vaccine than have gotten the flu vaccine, for healthcare workers, it is the reverse. Even among those who received a flu vaccine in 2019, front-line workers are the least likely to indicate a willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine."


Via Los Angeles Times
Some healthcare workers refuse to take COVID-19 vaccine, even with priority access

"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."


Via Atlanta Journal Constitution
Even after witnessing COVID’s toll, many Georgia health workers balk at vaccine

Only 30 percent of health care workers in Georgia have been inoculated.


Via The Columbus Dispatch
DeWine says 60% of nursing home workers not electing to get vaccine

In this Dec. 2020 article, the Governor of Ohio shares the vaccine hesitancy coming from nursing home workers.


Via The Texas Tribune
Older and disabled Texans are demanding their home caregivers be vaccinated for COVID-19. But many workers don’t want it.

"The caregivers are in the state’s 1A priority group for front-line health workers but are struggling to get access to vaccines because most aren’t affiliated with a state-approved vaccine provider like a hospital or nursing home.

In addition to lack of access, national surveys indicate that at least one-third are hesitant to take the vaccine, though those numbers appear to be decreasing, agency owners say. Researchers say that the main issues are distrust in the level of research on the vaccine and fear of side effects, among others."


Early COVID-19 First-Dose Vaccination Coverage Among Residents and Staff Members of Skilled Nursing Facilities Participating in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program — United States, December 2020–January 2021

"Among 11,460 SNFs with at least one vaccination clinic conducted during the first month of the CDC Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, a median of 77.8% of residents and 37.5% of staff members received ≥1 vaccine dose through the program."


Via Reuters
On the COVID-19 frontline but half of French care home workers don't trust vaccine

"The issue is not unique to France. In Germany, care home operator BeneVit Group surveyed staff in November and found only 30% wanted to get vaccinated.Peter Burri, head of ProSenectute, Switzerland’s biggest advocacy group for seniors, said at most half of nursing staff in the medical sector were willing to get inoculated."



Widespread skepticism and misinformation hamper India’s vaccine rollout

"Since India started administering the second vaccine dose two weeks ago, half of the front-line workers and nearly 40 percent of healthcare workers have not shown up."


Vaccine hesitancy on the front lines: a health-care worker shares her questions, we find answers

“'I’m definitely not an anti-vaxxer. I get the flu shot every year, so I have nothing against vaccines,' Muhanna told CTV in an interview.
What she needs to make a clear-headed decision, she said, are 'good, trusted' answers to the many questions she and her co-workers have, since 'it’s all happened so fast.' She said many of her fellow workers are 'flat-out refusing' to be inoculated."


Via Norway Today
Norwegian Medicines Agency links 13 deaths to vaccine side effects. Those who died were frail and old

"A total of 23 deaths have been reported in connection with the corona vaccination. So far, 13 of these have been assessed."


Via Arutz Sheva
4,500 people diagnosed with COVID after getting 1st vaccine dose

"The head of the public health services at the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Elrai-Price, warned Tuesday during a briefing that a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine does not provide sufficient protection against infection from the virus.

Dr. Elrai-Price noted that 17% of the severely ill patients who are currently hospitalized are patients who received a first dose of the vaccine before their hospitalization.

The data show that to date, 4,500 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus after having received the first vaccine dose, of whom 375 have been hospitalized due to the disease."


Via Reuters
AstraZeneca vaccine faces resistance in Europe after health workers suffer side-effects

"Health authorities in some European countries are facing resistance to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after side-effects led hospital staff and other front-line workers to call in sick, putting extra strain on already-stretched services."


Via The Local SE
Two Swedish regions pause Astra jabs after mild side-effects

"On Friday, the region of Sormland, south of Stockholm, stopped giving the Astra Zeneca jab, after 100 of a total 400 hospital employers reported high temperatures and other side effects. Gävleborg, north of Stockholm has also stopped giving the vaccine, and Jönkoping has expressed concern over the surprisingly large number of side effects.”


Via Wall Street Journal
These Doctors Want to Pick Their Covid-19 Vaccine, Fearing Reactions, Lower Efficacy

"Health-worker unions in Europe say thousands of their members refuse to take one of the three Covid-19 vaccines available in the region because of concerns over efficacy and reports of side effects, the latest setback for the continent’s slow vaccine rollout."


Via NY Post
Officials like Fauci have undermined trust in government institutions

"Trust is the single most important asset that the public-health community has. Public health involves getting people to change behaviors, and accept vaccines and medications, to control disease.

For most of my lifetime, that has been an easy task: People trusted the public-health authorities, in part because they had a long track record of making people’s lives better. And, of course, people trusted institutions in general.

But now trust is harder to come by. Institutions in general are less trusted, as one legacy of the Trump era has been the revelation of just how politicized (and sometimes corrupt) so many of our major institutions are."


Did you know that we've been providing COVID updates like this since Spring 2020? You can review all past newsletters here. If you have any questions or thoughts, please reach out!


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