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Health Care Workers Refusing Vaccination

Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot as the world's biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, a nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway in Binghamton, N.Y. The U.S.... FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, a nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway in Binghamton, N.Y. The U.S. is poised to give the green light as early as Friday, Dec. 18, to a second COVID-19 vaccine, a critical new weapon against the surging coronavirus. Doses of the vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health will give a much-needed boost to supplies as the biggest vaccination effort in the nation’s history continues. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File) MORE LESS
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December 31, 2020 10:50 a.m.

There’s a fascinating and perhaps ominous article this morning in the LA Times about health care workers who are refusing to take or at least reluctant to take the COVID vaccine. There’s a range of reasons from reasons from things that might strike some of us as irrational to the general hesitancy of not wanting to be first to other things that have some logical basis. One nurse the reporters interviewed is six months pregnant and noted (which I believe is true) that the vaccine hasn’t yet been tested on pregnant women. I don’t know if there’s any clinical reason why this vaccine could operate differently in pregnant women. But I certainly know that many pregnant women and expectant fathers are highly cautious about anything that can disrupt a pregnancy.

I think we fool ourselves, are less than honest with ourselves, if we treat COVID vaccine hesitance or resistance as just a new version of the anti-vaccine activism we’ve seen for the last couple decades. It’s clearly connected to that phenomenon and is fueled by the climate of doubt it has created. But this is a new vaccine and (in the case of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) uses a novel vaccine approach. Being wary of going first in such a case is simply not the same as refusing vaccines which have been administered literally billions of times and have track records of short term and long term safety going back decades.

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