Between 20-40 percent of Los Angeles County frontline workers have declined to take the COVID-19 vaccine, according to county public health officials.
Skepticism concerning the safety of the vaccine has surprised researchers, who assumed scientific data would persuade those in the medical field that the injection is safe.
Science and data have shown the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines pose no real threat and are efficient following clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants, including elderly people and those with chronic health conditions.
Only people who suffer severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients are recommended not to get it.
But concerns remain.
April Lu, a 31-year-old nurse, said she refused to take the vaccine because she was not convinced it was safe for pregnant women. She is six months pregnant, per the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.
Although trials have yet to be conducted on pregnant women who take the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control believes the vaccine is unlikely to pose a specific risk.
“I’m choosing the risk — the risk of having COVID, or the risk of the unknown of the vaccine,” Lu said. “I think I’m choosing the risk of COVID. I can control that and prevent it a little by wearing masks, although not 100 percent for sure.”
Some of Lu’s co-workers have declined to take the vaccine because they’ve gone months without contracting the virus and believe they will survive it.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 29 percent of healthcare workers were “vaccine hesitant,” a figure slightly higher than the percentage of the general population (27 percent).
In some Southern California hospitals, up to 50 percent of healthcare staff have turned down getting the injection.
“It’s certainly disappointing,” said Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers. “But it’s not shocking, given what the federal administration has done over the past 10 months. … Trust science. It’s about science, and reality, and what’s right.”
The news of frontline workers being hesitant to get the vaccine comes as the county is in an intensive-care crisis. Two-thirds of the staffed ICU beds on Monday were filled with coronavirus patients, while some hospitals have fully reached ICU capacity.
The situation is expected to get even worse in the aftermath of the holiday season.