It’s crucial COVID vaccine hesitancy among health workers is addressed

Holly Seale

19/01/2021 1:52:57 PM

Deputy Chair for the Collaboration on Social Science and Immunisation Associate Professor Holly Seale reveals where to start.

Doctor drawing up solution from vaccine bottle.
Achieving high vaccine uptake will not only protect critical healthcare workers, it will also support high levels of uptake among the general public.

Achieving high COVID-19 vaccine uptake among healthcare workers will not only protect these critical staff members, it will support high levels of uptake among the public.
Healthcare workers are at higher risk of COVID infection and illness. They can also act as extremely efficient transmitters of viruses to others in medical and aged care facilities.
That’s why healthcare workers have been prioritised to get a COVID vaccine when it becomes available in Australia.
But just because healthcare workers are among those first in line to receive a COVID vaccine, it doesn’t necessarily mean they all will.
Our health systems represent a microcosm of the community. Just like in the broader community, there will be healthcare workers highly motivated to get the COVID-19 vaccine, driven by concern about risk to themselves, their family, and their patients. There will also be those who have medical conditions, those that may not be able to get vaccinated, and staff who are hesitant.
There will also be healthcare workers with questions about the vaccine, who perhaps need further support to help them decide.
Reports from the US track vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers at around 29%. However, it’s important to note different groups have different reasons for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy; rates and reasons can vary across and within countries.
Protecting healthcare workers is critical. Achieving high COVID-19 vaccine uptake among healthcare workers will not only protect these critical staff members, it will also support high levels of uptake among the general public.
Personal healthcare workers are the most trusted source of information on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Health workers can also be complacent and uncertain about vaccination
Decision-making around vaccination can be a complex mix of psychosocial, cultural, political and other factors.
Healthcare workers, just like the broader public, may perceive they are at low risk of acquiring a vaccine-preventable disease. They may have concerns about the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine and/or may find it challenging to get vaccinated.
All these factors may make a healthcare worker reluctant to get the vaccine and communication strategies should be tailored to take these factors into account.
How to achieve high and equitable vaccination coverage among healthcare workers
While most healthcare workers understand how vaccines work generally, they may not necessarily be experts across all vaccine types.
If we want to ensure they feel comfortable to receive it and advocate for it, then we must address any misunderstanding and concerns healthcare workers may have. This may be focused on the vaccine itself (how it was developed, effectiveness and so on), or the necessity of vaccination.
One strategy that may assist will be to work with middle managers, as they are influential, trusted and can act as vaccine advocates and agents of change. They may also play a role addressing questions or concerns where they arise.
If a COVID vaccine becomes an occupational requirement for healthcare workers, hospitals and other organisations need to include middle managers in the development and rollout of programs. They can then help ensure staff members understand the rationale for the mandate, which staff members are targeted and why.
Investing in the staff responsible for delivering vaccines in the workplace, as well as other potential vaccine allies such as managers, can help reduce COVID vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers.
That will benefit all of us.
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This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Dr Mark Strelnikow   20/01/2021 6:40:51 PM

A crucial element not addressed is the valid concerns from a safety angle. We are used to a prolonged lead in timescale prior to the introduction of new vaccines, with longer term accumulation of data to do with safety and efficacy. We will get it thanks to the large scale roll-outs overseas, but lack of experience and data at this point in time is probably THE big issue.

Dr Raymond Yeow   20/01/2021 11:55:24 PM it true that legislation will be or has been passed that stops patients that suffer adverse events from pursuing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical company for damages ?

Dr Peter JD Spafford   21/01/2021 12:13:40 PM

So, letting managers make clinical decisions and give advice on risk vs benefit is a good thing? I think not. That is about implementing policy and not giving a s@** about the consequences.