Survey: 29% of health care workers opted out of COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the state continues its slower than expected rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, we’re learning part of the reason keeping numbers down could have to do with front-line health care workers opting out of getting the vaccine.

Spectrum Health, the largest health care system in West Michigan, reported that about 8,000 of its 31,000 employees opted out of getting the vaccine. The number accounts for about 26% of its workers.

Health care workers turning down the vaccine isn’t unique to West Michigan as a recent nationwide survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of health care workers were hesitant to get the vaccine.

The president of SEIU HealthCare Michigan, one of the largest healthcare unions in the state, said they’ve been hearing from members hesitant about getting the vaccine.

“That the vaccine came out too soon and just too quick,” Andrea Acevedo with SEIU Healthcare Michigan said about the concerns they’re hearing from members. “That there hasn’t been enough time for the known risk factors involved, that’s the biggest one that we have heard.”

Acevedo said members have also expressed concerns about possible long-term effects of the vaccine.

While Spectrum Health workers are not represented by SEIU Healthcare Michigan, Acevedo says they do represent more than 14,000 other workers in hospitals and nursing homes across the state.

Acevedo said it’s important to note that their organization stands by the rights of its members to make their own decision about whether or not to get vaccinated, only providing educational resources and tools to those that have expressed hesitation or concern.

“We feel it’s really important for members to be educated and to make their choice, not only regarding their health and safety and religious objections, but also to really feel … their concerns are being able to be explained and answered,” Acevedo said.

As part of their effort to educate members hesitant about the, vaccine, Acevedo said they held a webinar last week addressing the concerns of health care workers.

Additionally, Acevedo said their team has selected health care professionals that have been vaccinated to act as spokespersons, encouraging others in the field to get vaccinated.

News 8 reached out to other area hospitals to get their number of employees that have opted out of the vaccine. Both Bronson Hospital and Mercy Health stating that data is not available.

A spokesperson with MDHHS told News 8 they’re currently working to provide a statement regarding this matter.

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