Healthcare Workers Have Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine, but Some Are Refusing to Take It

NBC 7 Investigates learned from several sources that some doctors and nurses in our major healthcare systems, are taking a pass on the vaccine

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NBC News reports about 50% of workers in California’s Riverside County have refused to take the vaccine, along with 60% of nursing home staff in Ohio.

While local healthcare systems don't have the exact number of people that are passing on the vaccine in San Diego, most representatives say it's about 2 to 3%.

After trials involving tens of thousands of participants, including the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, the scientific evidence is clear regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. The shots are recommended for everyone except those who have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients.

So far, Scripps Health has administered a little over 11,000 vaccines. Later this week, they'll start the second dose for frontline doctors and nurses.

Chris Van Gorder, the CEO of Scripps Health said, “Roughly 70 percent of the staff members that were offered vaccines and basically all were… are taking advantage of it.  We've had only less than 2 percent in actual declinations and the rest we haven't heard from yet. So we really don't know if that remaining plus or minus 30 percent are just delaying for a while or they’re going to decline.”

At Kaiser San Diego and Zion Hospitals, a spokesperson says approximately 4,800 doses have been administered; roughly 40% of their employees and physicians. Ninety percent of their staff indicated an interest in receiving it when surveyed last month.

UC San Diego Health has vaccinated 8,300 employees. Three percent of their workers declined the vaccine, with another 5% choosing to delay it.

Palomar Health said they’ve administered 2,600 first doses. They have not made the vaccine available to the low-risk group yet, which is around 500 employees.

Since the vaccine is voluntary at this point, they do not have a formal declination process. They do not have knowledge of people that have officially declined.

Sharp HealthCare began its COVID-19 vaccination program on December 18, offering the vaccine first to clinical staff and providers in the highest risk tier. To date, approximately 65% of their highest risk employees opted in to be vaccinated and their walk-in vaccination clinics remain open for those who have not yet had an opportunity to do so.

Overall, Sharp, which has approximately 19,000 employees and 2,700 affiliated physicians, has vaccinated nearly 15,000 team members to date and several hundred long-term care patients. This Friday, they will begin administering the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Sal Rosselli, the President of the National Union of Healthcare Workers is disappointed some workers are declining the vaccine. He says reasons for it might be possible side effects, or lack of trust in the government to ensure the vaccines are safe.

He told NBC 7, “You know again, I think it is a lack of confidence that they can’t get sick from it [the vaccine].  I think it’s primarily from the Trump administration and their miscommunication. Obviously, there are exceptions right? Our members that are pregnant or have severe allergies. They need to consult with their physicians, but you can’t get COVID from the vaccine."

Rosselli said all of their 15,000 members in California are planning on getting the vaccine and that people need to trust science.

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