Jun 3, 2021 - Health

Survey: Some hospital workers are still refusing to get vaccinated

Picture of syringes in a blue plastic container
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

15 of the country's largest hospitals reported vaccination rates ranging between 51% to 91%, according to a survey conducted by USA Today.

The state of play: USA Today surveyed more than 270 hospitals, or approximately 4.5% of U.S. hospitals. Most reported vaccination rates that fell below President Biden's goal of having 70% Americans with at least one dose by the Fourth of July holiday.

Between the lines: The federal government said last week that employers can legally require workers to get the coronavirus vaccine, as well as offer incentives.

  • Yes, but: Most hospitals are still not mandating the vaccine. Hospital executives told USA Today that they understand the concern from workers who say that the vaccine has not gotten full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Some hospital workers said the vaccines were new and worried about what the long-term effects could be.

What they're saying: "I think it’ll be a bit of a struggle to get to that 70-to-75% vaccination rate," Stacey Gabriel, CEO of Ohio's Hocking Valley Community Hospital, told USA Today. Only 50% of her workers are vaccinated.

  • "What I don’t understand is how come 40% of my nurses who have worked with me in my COVID unit, where three patients die every day, they still say no," said Joseph Varon, a doctor at Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center.

Mandating vaccines has proven to be effective at increasing rates for FDA-approved shots.

  • The FDA approves the flu vaccine every year. 94% of workers at hospitals that require the flu vaccine got the shot in 2019.
  • At hospitals without mandates, less than 70% of workers got the flu vaccine, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Vaccination rates across the country have been slowing down, following an initial rush from people who were enthusiastic about getting inoculated. Biden on Wednesday announced new initiatives to boost rates and reach his 70% goal over the next month.

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