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Fri May 7, 2021, 12:06 PM

Many Minnesota nursing home workers still refusing COVID-19 shots [View all]


Four months after vaccines became available, senior care communities across Minnesota continue to face a daunting challenge: how to persuade front-line workers to overcome their fears and embrace the lifesaving shots. A large percentage of nursing home and assisted-living workers continue to refuse the vaccines, posing a major challenge to the state's efforts to prevent further virus surges in facilities that care for the state's most vulnerable residents. Their wariness is fueled by a wide array of concerns, including fears of long-term side effects, particularly among women of childbearing age; doubts about the vaccine's efficacy; distrust in the medical system, and perceived immunity among workers who have recovered from COVID-19, according to facility administrators and industry representatives.

Across the state, senior homes have tried everything short of mandating the shots to persuade workers to roll up their sleeves. They have bombarded them with text messages and social media postings. They have held vaccine parties and given out gift cards. They have asked respected workers to sway their reluctant colleagues through one-on-one conversations. And they've handed out scientific reports showing how the vaccines have been highly effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among older adults.

These efforts are driven by a sense of urgency. After seeing the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths plunge this year, long-term care providers want to avoid a return to the harrowing outbreaks of last spring and fall, when the disease was claiming dozens of lives a week in these facilities while plunging the industry into a full-blown staffing crisis.


Yet thousands of front-line workers remain unconvinced. New survey data released by the Minnesota Department of Health show that only about half of workers in assisted-living facilities have received both shots, while nearly 60% of those in skilled nursing homes are fully vaccinated. By contrast, more than 80% of those who live in these facilities have agreed to be vaccinated, according to a voluntary survey of long-term care providers.

A federal study released late last month underscores the urgency. At a Kentucky nursing home, an unvaccinated staff member brought in a variant, or new strain of the virus, causing 18 residents and four workers who had been fully vaccinated to contract the virus, according to the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unvaccinated residents and health care staff had three and four times the risk of infection during the outbreak as vaccinated residents and staffers, respectively, the study found.


Some providers said they weighed the possibility of requiring the vaccines but ruled it out because they feared losing staff in the midst of a labor shortage. There is also no unifying reason that explains why workers are resistant to the shots and hence no straightforward message or tactic to persuade them. Religious beliefs, misinformation on social media and speculation about long-term health effects have all played a role, say long-term care providers.



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Reply Many Minnesota nursing home workers still refusing COVID-19 shots [View all]
question everything May 2021 OP
Buckeye_Democrat May 2021 #1
Mister Ed May 2021 #2
No Vested Interest May 2021 #3
Mister Ed May 2021 #4
dflprincess May 2021 #5
No Vested Interest May 2021 #6