World News | Health workers are among those hesitant about the COVID vaccine. Here’s how we can safely support them
Melbourne, October 4 (The Conversation) Given the caring nature of their profession, the general public might assume that there is no hesitation about vaccines among health workers. It may surprise (and anger) the community when health workers protest the introduction of COVID vaccination warrants.
In France, around 3,000 health workers have been suspended because they were not vaccinated. In Greece, health workers protested against mandatory vaccination plans. Similar scenes took place in Canada and New York State.
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In Australia, health workers have reportedly joined protests in Melbourne and Perth. A small number of unvaccinated staff are challenging vaccination warrants in the NSW Supreme Court.
Beyond the hospital sector, there are reports of staff leaving the elderly care sector following the introduction of warrants.
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The reluctance of health workers largely reflects the concerns of the community at large. But the risks of not getting vaccinated in healthcare facilities mean we need to recognize these concerns and support informed decision-making.
A range of concerns
More than 90 percent of health workers in NSW and Victoria have received a COVID vaccine. But there is still a small percentage of people working in hospitals and other clinical settings who are reluctant to get vaccinated or want to choose which vaccine they get.
Health figures from New South Wales suggest that currently around 7% (or 7,350 staff) are still unvaccinated.
Internationally, the prevalence of reluctance to COVID vaccination among health workers ranges from 4.3 to 72% (23% on average).
One in four hospital workers in the United States with direct contact with patients had not received a single dose of COVID vaccine by the end of May.
A study conducted in the first months of this year found that while most health workers intended to accept a COVID vaccine, 22% were either unsure or did not intend to vaccinate. These results correspond to a study in Italy which found that 33% of health workers were not sure or did not intend to vaccinate.
The top three reasons health workers hesitate echo the same concerns voiced by some in the wider community: the safety, efficacy, and side effects of vaccines.
Previous surveys abroad have shown that less than a third of health workers felt they had enough information about COVID vaccines. And, like the wider community, health workers are vulnerable to misinformation and sometimes have insufficient understanding of how vaccines are developed.
While inpatients are more likely to be the cause of COVID outbreaks in hospitals, unvaccinated healthcare workers and elderly people still pose a risk to the safety of patients and residents. The transmission of COVID to or between unvaccinated health workers poses a risk to the wider community, including their families and friends.
Beyond the risk of transmission, there is also the impact that vaccine-hesitant health workers have on greater confidence in vaccination. Health workers are seen as credible sources of information and are trusted by the community.
There are videos on social media, YouTube, and TikTok of individual health workers talking about COVID vaccines, often repeating misinformation about vaccine safety or effectiveness, or expressing uncertainties.
The potential impact of these viral videos may be increased compared to those featuring speakers who do not work in the health professions.
University of Washington researcher Rachel Moran, who examines disinformation on the Internet, says these health workers “are leveraging the credibility of health professionals to create a false impression that there is considerable debate about COVID vaccines among doctors and nurses when in reality there is a consensus on their efficacy and safety ”.
How can we all stay safe?
Going forward, we need to recognize three things about health workers and vaccine reluctance:
1. Don’t judge
While there is a moral imperative and duty of care for health workers to receive the COVID vaccine, we must ensure that unvaccinated staff members have the opportunity to discuss vaccines without being judgmental.
As with the general public, we need to find out who health workers trust and connect them with reliable resources to allay their fears. This can be done through hospital websites, discussions with their primary health care providers, or factual information.
2. Determine what works
Unlike the community setting, there has been a lack of funding to develop and test resources and interventions focused on supporting immunization of health workers and the elderly.
Understanding the specific strategies that work to support vaccine uptake, without having to jump straight to mandates, is important not only from a patient safety perspective, but also from a health and safety perspective. job.
These results are relevant for COVID and other occupational vaccination programs.
3. Ensure supply and access
Before introducing a mandate, there must be an adequate supply and equitable access to vaccines. We need to make sure that people have the opportunity to look at the data on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and to get vaccinated voluntarily.
Careful planning, consultation and communication with key groups can improve the acceptability of mandates.
In the coming weeks, more health workers are likely to resign or be fired for failing to meet COVID mandates. There will be those on social media who call the situation a “good decision”.
But some health workers will speak out in private or in public on the issue and cast doubt on the vaccine. It is important that we prepare for these situations, especially in regional areas where there may be less voice and greater trust in long-term health workers. (The conversation)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from the Syndicated News Feed, the staff at LatestLY may not have edited or edited the body of the content)