Health care workers change their minds on COVID vaccinations

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When the COVID-19 vaccines became available, many health care workers, despite seeing the devastating effects of the virus firsthand, said they did not intend to get vaccinated.

In a new study from Northwestern Medicine, researchers found how quickly many of them at a large urban health care system changed their minds, resulting in a vaccination rate of 95% by spring 2021.

The study found only three-fourths of the 4,180 health care workers in the study intended to get vaccinated in winter 2021, but by spring 2021, 95% had been vaccinated.

Of the health care workers who were unsure about getting vaccinated in winter 2021, 90% had been vaccinated by spring 2021.

Of the health care workers who indicated no intention to get vaccinated in winter 2021, nearly 60% had changed their minds and gotten vaccinated by spring 2021.

This study showed health care workers’ attitudes about COVID-19 vaccination could change in a very short period of time.

It shows there is an opportunity to change people’s decisions about not getting vaccinated.

The first survey for this analysis was administered to 4,180 Northwestern Medicine health care workers who enrolled in the study in December 2020 through February 2021. The second survey was in June 2021.

The survey asked about health care workers’ COVID-19 exposures and experiences and COVID-19 vaccination status.

The participants also underwent blood testing to measure their antibodies at enrollment in spring 2020 and six months after enrollment.

The team says multiple factors likely contributed to health care workers changing their minds.

They included clear messaging about the safety of the vaccines, convenient access to vaccinations at the hospital, awareness that workplace mandates were coming in the future, as was the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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The study is published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology and was conducted by Charlesnika Evans et al.

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