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With up to 40% of frontline workers in LA county, in the US, refusing Covid-19 inoculation, experts warn that understanding and persuasion are needed, writes my colleague Amanda Holpuch.
Susan, a critical care nurse based in Alaska has been exposed to Covid-19 multiple times and has watched scores of people die from the illness. But she did not want to get the vaccination when she learned it would soon be available.
“I am not an anti-vaxxer, I have every vaccine known to man, my flu shot, I always sign up right there, October 1, jab me,” said Susan, who didn’t want to give her last name for fear of retaliation. “But for this one, why do I have to be a guinea pig?”
The two authorized vaccines, made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, are safe according to leading experts and clinical trials – for one thing they contain no live virus and so cannot give a person Covid – and with tens of thousands of patients, they have had about 95% efficacy. But across the country, health workers with the first access to the vaccine are turning it down.
The rates of refusal – up to 40% of frontline workers in Los Angeles county, 60% of care home workers in Ohio – have prompted concern and in some cases, shaming. But the ultimate failure could be dismissing these numbers at a critical moment in the US vaccination campaign.
Dr Whitney Robinson, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, told the Guardian if these early figures coming from healthcare workers are not addressed: “It could mean after all this work, after all this sacrifice, we could still be seeing outbreaks for years, not just 2021, maybe 2022, maybe 2023.”