In American nursing homes and hospitals, a surprising number of healthcare workers are refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Business Insider reported.
As many as 80% of staff are turning down a vaccine in some institutions, according to AP. This is due to fears about the side-effects of these vaccines produced by two American companies.
Nonetheless, skepticism exists among healthcare workers and the American public at large.
Dr. Joseph Varon, a critical care doctor from Houston, has said that more than half of the nurses in his unit are objecting to getting inoculated for political reasons. "Most of the reasons why most of my people don't want to get the vaccine are politically motivated," Varon told NPR.
In Portland, Oregon, Dr. Stephen Noble, a cardiothoracic surgeon 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."
About a quarter (27%) of the American public is hesitant to get a vaccine, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This rises to 29% of those who work in a health care setting, the study shows.
In Ohio, 60% of the state's nursing home workers have decided against a vaccine, the governor said.
Gov. Mike DeWine has announced that he hopes to instill a "sense of urgency" in his state's healthcare workers by offering a stark warning. He has told frontline staff they could miss out on getting a vaccine any time soon if they don't act now, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
"Our message today is the train may not be coming back for a while," DeWine said at a press conference.
In other states, there is also concern about the low take-up rates of vaccines by frontline workers.
In North Carolina, public health officials revealed that more than half of those working in nursing homes have so far refused to get a shot, according to AP.
A significant proportion of nursing staff in West Virginia is also refusing to get vaccinated. About 45% have said no to a COVID-19 jab, AP reported.
Martin Wright, who leads the West Virginia Health Care Association, blamed fast-spreading misinformation about vaccines: "It's a race against social media," he said.
Between 20 and 40% of frontline workers in Los Angeles have also refused a COVID-19 shot, public health officials the Los Angeles Times. In neighboring Riverside County, the paper says this rises to 50%.
In a bid to increase the vaccination rates among healthcare workers a number of administrators have resorted to offering raffle tickets and free breakfasts at Waffle House in exchange for a jab, AP reported.
So far, some recipients of the Pfizer vaccine around the world have experienced side effects. Last week, a Portuguese nurse died two days after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. An American doctor also suffered a stroke a week after receiving the vaccine. In addition, a physician and a nurse in two different US states became infected with Covid 19 after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
According to the Washington Post, the head of the US Food and Drug Administration was under pressure from the White House to approve the Pfizer vaccine, and even the White House chief of staff had threatened him to approve or resign the vaccine.
White House officials were under pressure to approve and distribute the Covid 19 vaccine as soon as possible due to the high mortality rate from the disease.