Diary of a Frontline Worker: A Follow Up

A few weeks ago, I asked my coworkers about their views on the COVID-19 vaccine and whether they planned on getting vaccinated. Of the entire 20 person staff, only four of us signed up and received the vaccine. Several of my coworkers cited concerns over the speed of the vaccine’s development and the lack of data on any long-term effects to support their decision. I recently followed up with a few of my coworkers on this same topic. I wanted to see if the increased public emphasis on the safety of the COVID-19 Vaccines had changed their opinions or if they had already received the first dose.

The individuals I had previously interviewed, an older white gentleman and a young Latina mother, both held steadfast in their concerns about the vaccine. “I have no plans of getting any vaccine. Just look at what happened with AstraZeneca.” This was the young mother who had previously discussed her apprehension stemming from a lack of research on long-term effects. “I fit the description, and I can’t afford to be in the hospital for something like that.” This referenced the recent finding of a rare linkage of blood clots in women aged 18-48 years old who received the COVID-19 Vaccine from AstraZeneca. Despite these cases happening outside the United States and being extremely rare, it was enough for this skeptical individual to make the decision to not get vaccinated. She also went on to cite a conspiracy theory about the vaccine being related to infertility. While I pointed out the baselessness of this claim, as it has been widely debunked by several medical professionals, it did little to persuade her.

The second person I followed up with was an older gentleman who had served in the military. He had previously told me his lack of trust in vaccines stems from not having a choice in getting both the malaria and anthrax vaccines in the 1960’s. We discussed the growing national vaccine campaigns and how the country is approaching herd immunity. “I’m really looking forward to this all being over, and I think we’ll get there [herd immunity] soon.” When I asked him if he had gotten, or planned to get, the vaccine he said, “no. “I don’t know what the effects are, I’d rather not be the guinea pig.” I thought this was extremely interesting. As someone who has worked in the medical field for years, and regards herd immunity as something to strive for, it struck me as odd that he refused to contribute.

I wasn’t surprised that my coworkers hadn’t changed their minds in regard to the vaccine. From what I have gathered, misinformation seems to be the key contributor in the decision to not get the vaccine. These interactions have highlighted the importance of trustworthy information and making sure that trusted community health workers and news outlets are doing their best to disseminate credible vaccine information. Hopefully, individuals like my coworkers will attempt to gather more information on the vaccine from verified news sources and use those findings to guide their decision making for the duration of the pandemic.

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