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article imageMany healthcare workers torn on whether to get COVID-19 vaccine

By Karen Graham     Dec 31, 2020 in Health
The development of the Pfizer - BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for protection against the coronavirus took less than a year - a real marvel of science. However, many people are showing uncertainty regarding the vaccine's long-term effects.
What is really surprising is that many frontline healthcare workers - doctors and nursing staff alike - are opting out of taking the new coronavirus vaccines. From California to Virginia, anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of healthcare professionals are reluctant to roll up their sleeves.
In California's Riverside County, an estimated 50 percent of frontline workers refused to take the vaccine, resulting in hospital and public officials meeting to strategize how best to distribute the unused doses, Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said, according to KTLA.com.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that a survey done earlier this month showed 45 percent of respondents are taking a wait-and-see approach to coronavirus vaccination.
New technology and all the things we don't know
Many researchers are surprised at the unwillingness of healthcare workers to take the vaccine, making the assumption that hospital staff would be most in-tune with the scientific data behind the development and trials done on the vaccine.
Yes, the vaccines were developed under a great deal of duress, even as the deadly virus continued to spread. So the main push was on speed - "Warp Speed," in getting the vaccine made and ready for the public. The numbers of people in the trials were larger than in trials for vaccines developed in the past, and took a much shorter period of time than trials performed in the past.
There are so many questions that remain unanswered about the vaccine - many of them brought up by healthcare workers. In Chesterfield County, Virginia, WTVR.com is reporting that one nurse who asked not be identified said: “I am just concerned about injecting something into my body that has been developed so quickly, and not knowing what the long-term effects of it are going to be."
It is true that we don't know to what extent the vaccines will keep us from transmitting or contracting the virus, however, even thinking about the protection they may give us from contracting a deadly illness is worth considering.
We also don’t know whether irreversible side effects might emerge, or who is at higher risk from them. And we don’t know whether we’ll need to get vaccinated every year, every three years, or never again.
Added concerns that are very real
"I will decline to take the vaccine,” one Henry Ford Health System nurse said. She asked that her name not be used because she worries that it could threaten her job, reports the Detroit Free Press.
"It might cure COVID for now, but what are the side effects down the line? It was produced so fast. If it was out a little bit longer, and more research was done on it, I’d probably take the vaccine, just like the flu shot or any other vaccine. But because it came out so fast, especially under the administration that we have, it’s just not something that I trust,” the nurse said.
“It's been voiced in several different meetings with upper management, with the CEOs and the president: they're fully aware that nursing staff feels as though they don't want to be somebody's science experiment or a guinea pig,” said the Henry Ford nurse, who is Black.
Jessica Romanowski, a surgical technician at McLaren Flint Hospital in Michigan, feels torn. After nurses there lost one of their own to the virus in November, Romanowski is all too familiar with the risks. And she also knows there is little to no data on the effects the vaccine will have on pregnant or lactating women.
"My husband and I are also looking to start a family soon, and what long term side effects would this vaccine present to myself — or my child? History has shown us what can happen when drugs aren’t tested properly, that was evident with the drug thalidomide,” Romanowski said.
Yes, there are many questions left to be answered. But we also have to weigh the options we have available right this minute. It is sort of like being in a burning house in the middle of a snowstorm - do you rush out into the cold, or do you stay inside where it is dangerous - yet warm - and wait to see if help is coming?
More about covid vaccine, healthcare workers, two vaccines, Doubts, longterm affects
 
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