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Healthcare Workers Are Refusing the COVID Shot?

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Healthcare Workers Are Refusing the COVID Shot?

Yes, you heard correctly. Some healthcare workers are refusing the COVID shot.

The country fell short of vaccine goals for July. But a new push aims to vaccinate more Americans. Interestingly, healthcare workers are among those refusing the COVID-19 shot.

Healthcare workers cite many reasons for refusing the COVID-19 injection. Like all medical interventions, the messenger RNA (mRNA) injections against the coronavirus come with potential dangers. Treatment decisions must be made after carefully weighing risks versus benefits.

So why do some of the most trusted healthcare professionals feel that the risks outweigh the benefits in this case? Here’s why. 

Healthcare Professionals Are Refusing the COVID Shot

The COVID-19 virus turned lives upside down and inside out in 2020. While the healthcare system reels from the pandemic impact, officials are pushing COVID-19 vaccination injections for emergency use. 

But what are the supposed risks associated with the injection? And why are some wary of the shot?


The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19. The latest data from June shows that the top reasons for refusing the vaccine are:

  • “The vaccine is too new.”
  • “Concern about side effects.”
  • “Just don’t want to get it.”
  • “Don’t trust the government.”
  • “Don’t think they need it.”

Here’s what healthcare workers had to say.

“The Vaccine is Too New.”

A complaint filed on behalf of 117 unvaccinated healthcare workers in Houston, TX, stated that their hospital was forcing them “to be human guinea pigs as a condition for continued employment.” 

At this time, the biologic injections are not Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-approved. They are administered by Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). But the FDA says that the vaccine has met “rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality.” Some fear the scientific evidence is insufficient.

“Concern About Side Effects.”

Healthcare professionals may worry that the COVID shots could have long-term side effects. According to a survey of 23,232 long-term care workers, only about 45% of respondents stated they would receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine despite having the most dangerous jobs in America. They say the primary reason for hesitancy concerns side effects. 

According to the Penn Medicine Center for Evidence-Based Practice, there are no specific guidelines for using mRNA vaccines, and no large trials of any mRNA vaccine have been completed yet. Still, severe systemic adverse events were reported by 5-10% of trial subjects

Some healthcare workers are pregnant. They have unique cause for alarm. In mid-June, the New England Journal of Medicine published results of a study in which the rate of spontaneous miscarriage among women vaccinated in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy was 82%.

“Just Don’t Want It.”

One healthcare worker described herself as a “selective vaxxer as opposed to an anti-vaxxer” with no intentions of getting the shots. Instead, she takes other precautions with patients.

“Don’t Trust the Government.”

One major reason for vaccine hesitancy is mistrust. Some attribute concerns to the role of politics in vaccine development. Some fear that the policymakers, like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA, do not have the public’s best interest at heart. 

Dr. NIkhila Juvvadi, a Chief Clinical Officer in Chicago, recently recognized skepticism among minority groups in her hospital, citing statements patients made about the notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. In this experiment, which ended in 1972, the United States Public Health Service and the CDC used African American men as test subjects without their consent and withheld medical treatment for decades.

“Don’t Need It.”

Nurses remember microbiology. And the good ‘ole days in pathophysiology.

Concepts like infection control and immunity are burned into the psyche. No wonder some may think that boosting the immune system and working on infection control measures are a better choice. 

Even the CDC concedes that the vaccines do not eliminate risk of infection. “Breakthrough infections” occur when a fully-vaccinated person is infected with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV2). They stopped tracking those infections back in April when 4,115 fully vaccinated individuals had died or were hospitalized with the illness. 

How many Healthcare Professionals Are Refusing the COVID Shot

Estimates of how many healthcare workers have refused vaccination vary by source, from 15% to 60%. Whatever the stats, the number is shrinking.

According to KFF, vaccine hesitancy is highest among Republicans (42%), those ages 30-49 (36%), and rural residents (35%). 

Can Employers Mandate Vaccination?

According to the most recent guidance by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can mandate vaccinations. They can legally require healthcare workers to take the injections and provide incentives or bonus payments to workers who do so voluntarily. 

Some healthcare professionals are exempt from employer vaccination requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other workplace laws. Those with medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs may not have to take the COVID-19 shots.


Controversy over the vaccination is just the latest chapter in the pandemic story. Nurses and other healthcare workers have seen first-hand what this devastating illness does. Still, healthcare professionals and the public remain divided over this personal choice or responsibility.

We hope you found this article interesting. Tell a friend you read it on Capsol and check out our resource center for news, updates, and much more. Join us today!


Sarah Falcone BSN, RN

Sarah Falcone BSN, RN


Sarah S. Falcone BSN, RN is a dedicated nurse based in Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX. Her first nursing gig, was night-shift floor nurse in women's services (PP, L&D, nursery). Through a series of fortunate events, she found home health and a passion for helping seniors age in place. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


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