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The drive to vaccinate health workers in the US has stumbled in many parts of the country because many of those offered coronavirus vaccines are refusing to take them, the Associated Press reports.
While the federal government has released no data on how many people offered the vaccines have taken them, glimpses of resistance have emerged around the country, according to the US-headquartered news agency.
In West Virginia, only about 55% of nursing home workers agreed to the shots when they were first offered last month, according to Martin Wright, who leads the West Virginia Health Care Association.
The governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, said only 40% of the state’s nursing home workers have accepted vaccines.
North Carolina’s top public health official estimated more than half were refusing the vaccine there.
The pushback comes amid the most lethal phase in the outbreak yet, with the death toll at more than 350,000, and it could hinder the government’s effort to vaccinate somewhere between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population to achieve “herd immunity.”
Dr Stephen Noble, a 42-year-old cardiothoracic surgeon in Portland, Oregon, who is postponing getting vaccinated told AP:
I don’t think anyone wants to be a guinea pig. At the end of the day, as a man of science, I just want to see what the data show. And give me the full data.
Noble said it is vital for public health authorities not to overstate what they know about the vaccines. That is particularly important, he said, for black people, like him, who are distrustful of government medical guidance because of past failures and abuses, such as the infamous Tuskegee experiment.
Stormy Tatom, 30, a hospital ICU nurse in Beaumont, Texas, said she decided against getting vaccinated for now “because of the unknown long-term side effects.”
I would say at least half of my coworkers feel the same way.
Administrators and public health officials have expressed hope that more health workers will opt to be vaccinated as they see their colleagues take the shots without problems.