Scores of health care workers are still declining to take the COVID-19 vaccine, presenting problems to the pandemic response by sending the wrong message to the public and risking staff shortages if workers become sick.
It’s all happening as a more contagious variant of the virus begins spreading in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday warned this strain could be the dominant one hitting the United States by March.
While there is no national data showing the number of health workers who have declined to be vaccinated, governors, public health officials and health care executives have sounded the alarm on what appears to be a higher than expected refusal rate.
In New York state, more than 40 percent of health workers, who are first in line to get the shot because of their importance to the COVID-19 response, have yet to be vaccinated. It’s not clear how many had actually declined the vaccine, versus not being offered it yet. But the percentage of workers who declined a vaccine in different regions of the state ranges from 12 percent to 29 percent, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.