At Chicago’s Loretto Hospital, located in a majority-Black community, 40 percent of staff surveyed shortly before the vaccine came out said they don’t want to be inoculated, Nikhila Juvvadi, MD, chief clinical officer at the hospital, told NPR. Sixty percent said they would get the vaccine when they can.
Dr. Juvvadi attributed the hesitancy to mistrust of vaccinations among Black residents and to some extent the Latino population.
“There’s no transparency between pharmaceutical companies or research companies — or the government sometimes — on how many people from those communities were actually involved in the research. So, they have — they have an issue with that,” she said.
She also said the Black community “was used, unfortunately, as guinea pigs — whether it was Tuskegee, whether it was Henrietta Lacks’ cells being used without her permission. That caused them to have this mistrust.”
Chicago is not the only place where workers are hesitant. According to the L.A. Times, one in five front-line nurses and physicians at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Calif., have rejected the vaccine, and L.A. County public health officials said about 20 percent to 40 percent of the county’s front-line workers who were offered the shot also declined it. Additionally, many employees at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg, Texas, are hesitant about getting the vaccine.
Factors cited in the L.A. Times report include skepticism about whether the vaccine is safe as well as workers’ beliefs that they will survive if infected.
To help reduce hesitancy among staff, Loretto Hospital has had town halls and one-on-one conversations with workers, according to Dr. Juvvadi. Hospitals are also reportedly using instructional videos and interactive webinars showing workers getting inoculated.