NUHW urges members to get Covid vaccine

December 14th, 2020

Healthcare workers are first in line to get the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
But will some be hesitant to take it?

This Week the National Union of Healthcare Workers is urging its members to get vaccinated and set an example for their communities 

The union also calls on employers to first vaccinate those most exposed to risk rather than prioritize by title

Healthcare workers across the country will start receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine beginning today. But, will all those eligible jump at the opportunity to receive a shot?

The National Union of Healthcare Workers is calling on its members to get vaccinated. And while the union’s leaders believe most will do so, they also know that some frontline healthcare workers will be hesitant without more information. Among other actions, the union has released a detailed FAQ on the vaccine to its members.

“We want to get our society back to normal,” said NUHW President Sal Rosselli. “A vaccine can get us there and along the way save millions of lives. But the vaccine will only be effective if it is embraced by healthcare workers and the general public here and around the globe.”

“Healthcare workers have been courageously working under dangerous circumstances caring for infected patients throughout this long pandemic,” Rosselli added. “Now it’s up to our workforce to take the lead and set an example that demonstrates that taking the vaccine is safe and the right thing to do,” he said.

The anticipated initial 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine allocated to California, where most NUHW members work, could not be arriving at a more critical time. Across the state, 29,000 new infections are recorded every day. ICU capacity in Southern California has dropped to just 4.2 percent, while in the Central Valley it has been reported that hospitals have zero emergency room capacity.

Despite these grim statistics, many in California and elsewhere say that they are resistant to taking the vaccine. A Gallup poll published last week found that only 63 percent of Americans were willing to get vaccinated — significantly below the 75 percent threshold that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, said would be needed to achieve “herd immunity.” Among those polled, willingness to be vaccinated was lowest among all adults aged 45-64 years old (52%) and non-white adults (53%).

“We are not only combatting a deadly virus,” Rosselli said. “We are forced to push back against misinformation and disinformation related to vaccines in general and the COVID-19 vaccine in particular. President Trump’s remarks about the vaccine and the way he has politicized its rollout hasn’t helped,” he added.

“Probably every one of our members knows that vaccines are a proven way to protect individuals from viruses and can even eradicate a virus completely,” Rosselli said. “Yet doubts remain because many of our people hail from communities that are distrustful of this administration and the medical establishment.”

Let’s not let anyone skip in front of the line.

Rosselli cautioned healthcare employers against letting administrators or doctors who don’t treat COVID-19 patients jump to the front of the line for vaccines.

“Direct caregivers like nurses, respiratory therapists, housekeepers who clean the rooms of COVID-19 patients, transporters who move patients and phlebotomists who test patients are all at high risk and must be prioritized for vaccines, not the folks in the front office,” Rosselli said.

“We can’t let our guard down.”

He also added that since the vaccine supply will initially be limited and it’s still unknown if the vaccine prevents virus transmission, it’s critical that hospitals not scale back on providing PPE, testing or other safety precautions after workers are vaccinated.

“We can’t let our guard down,” Rosselli said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a long tunnel.”