Many hospital workers remain unvaccinated despite the fact they were first in line to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. In a recent survey, some hospitals reported that only half their staff, which includes doctors and nurses along with support workers, are fully vaccinated.
According to the USA Today survey, public health officials are concerned that the low vaccination rate among hospital workers will slow the race toward herd immunity that experts hope will stop the spread of the virus by this summer.
“I think it’ll be a bit of a struggle to get to that 70% to 75% vaccination rate,” said Stacey Gabriel, chief executive officer of Hocking Valley Community Hospital in Ohio, an 80-bed facility where only 50% of the staff have been vaccinated.
At Houston Methodist Hospital, 47-year-old Bob Nevens was fired for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He had served as director of corporate risk for a decade and balked when his hospital system mandated vaccines for all management and staff.
Nevens said he was concerned that the vaccines were developed too rapidly and that the Food and Drug Administration gave only emergency use authorization for the drugs and not full approval. He was also worried about the unknown long-term side effects of the drugs.
“I don’t want to take an experimental vaccine,” he told USA Today. “We don’t know what it’s going to do to somebody 10 years from now.” Nevens also said that he believes he already contracted COVID-19 while on a hiking trip and is therefore immune to the disease.
Houston Methodist president Marc Boom defended his hospital’s stance on mandatory vaccines.
“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “It puts patients first. It puts hospitals in a leadership position from a safety perspective.”
Last week, 117 employees of the hospital filed suit against the hospital system for requiring the vaccine, saying that the clinical trials have not been completed and the drugs do not have full approval from the FDA. One employee who refused to get vaccinated claims she has seen many people become ill from the vaccine.
“I’ve seen everything from blood clots, heart attacks, heart arrhythmias,” nurse Jennifer Bridges told USA Today. “We’ve had people who were perfectly healthy and the day after they took the vaccine, they literally woke up and they couldn’t move or feel their legs.”
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