Frontline health care professionals eligible for COVID-19 vaccines have been turning them down with surprising frequency, the Los Angeles Times reports. In Los Angeles County, estimates of vaccine refusal range from 20 to 40 percent; in Riverside rates have reached 50 percent.
According to one study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 29 percent of health care workers identified as “vaccine hesitant.” Just 27 percent of the general public identifies as such.
The reasons provided by health care workers–a group that researchers who spoke to the Times said they expected to be more trusting and enthusiastic about the vaccine rather than less–are varied. Many have expressed concern about possible side effects, which are thought to be extremely rare, or noted that they have other circumstances for which the vaccine was not specifically tested, such as being pregnant.
There have also been numerous reports of Black and Latino populations expressing high rates of skepticism of the vaccine, linked to a widespread legacy of inadequate–at times abusive–treatment by the health care system. Around 40 percent of American health care workers are people of color, the Kaiser Family Foundation found earlier this year.
Some health care workers have expressed that they are troubled by the speed with which the vaccines were rushed to distribution, or express the same type of anti-vaccine rhetoric that has spread around the general public, particularly online.
“I feel like the perception of the public with health care workers is incorrect. They might think we’re all informed of all of this. They might think that because we work in this environment,” Nicholas Ruiz, an office assistant at a hospital in Salinas told the Times. “But I know there’s a lot of people that have the same mentality as the public where they’re still afraid of getting it.”