Giving into unfounded fears

Officials working to get the COVID-19 vaccine to those who need it most have run into an unfathomable problem. Health care workers are buying into the nonsense that the vaccine might not be safe, and are refusing the shot. Not all of them are so bull-headed, of course. Many are doing the right thing and getting the shots so they are safe AND they are doing their part to keep their patients safe.

But in both nursing homes and hospitals across the country, a disturbing percentage of workers are falling prey to entirely unfounded fears — helped along by the lies and conspiracy theories spread via social media and other newsertainment outlets — that they might experience worrisome side effects if they get vaccinated.

In discussing the number of health care workers who HAVE received the vaccine, Neil Pruitt, CEO of a company that runs about 100 long-term care homes across the South, said “It’s far too low. It’s alarmingly low.” In that region, fewer than 3 in 10 workers offered the vaccine so far have accepted it.

Medical journals have published extensive data on the vaccines, and the Food and Drug Administration has made its analysis public, as the Associated Press has reported.

In West Virginia, only about 55 percent of nursing home workers agreed to the shots when they were first offered last month, according to Martin Wright, who leads the West Virginia Health Care Association.

“It’s a race against social media,” he said of battling falsehoods about the vaccines.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said only 40 percent of the state’s nursing home workers have gotten shots.

And so vials of vaccines that should be saving lives right now are sitting unused in storage. That is an outrage. Those who, in theory, have dedicated their lives to the health and wellbeing of others should be rushing to get the vaccine when it is made available to them. If they are not, they should be ashamed of themselves; and will bear a portion of the responsibility for the extension of our struggle against this monster.


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