80% of the health system's employees are getting on board to accept the COVID-19 vaccine.
As COVID-19 vaccinations expand beyond essential workers, 80% of CommonSpirit Health's 150,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated, are scheduled to be vaccinated, or say that they are "very likely" to get vaccinated, according to a CommonSpirit Health survey conducted by Press Ganey Associates January 11–12, 2021, to 20,000 randomly selected CommonSpirit Health employees.
The company's vaccination rates are a stark contrast to reports of frontline workers opting out of vaccinations or expressing vaccine hesitance.
Roughly 20% to 40% of Los Angeles County's frontline workers who were offered the vaccine refused it, said county public health officials, while some health systems are seeing as much as 80% of the staff holding back, according to the Associated Press.
About 29% of U.S. frontline workers are refusing the vaccine for the same reasons as a mistrustful public: worries about possible side effects, concerns that the vaccine is too new, distrust of the vaccines' safety and effectiveness, and concerns over the role of politics in the development process, a Kaiser Family Foundation study reported.
But CommonSpirit Health, with 139 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites in 21 states across the country, has helped encourage employees to get vaccinated through an education and awareness program focused on debunking COVID-19 vaccine myths through employee town halls and social media posts featuring clinicians.
"As one of America's largest health systems, we hope that the positive action of our employees is a bellwether for the entire healthcare industry," said CommonSpirit Health Chief Nursing Officer Kathleen Sanford, DBA, RN. "It's important to understand, it takes time to build this vaccine confidence, and we see this as an extremely positive upward trend."
The top two reasons employees chose to get vaccinated, according to CommonSpirit's survey, were "desire to protect my family" (97%) and "reduce the chance of me infecting others" (97%). These were followed by "reduce chances of me getting infected" (93%) and "if enough people can get vaccinated, we can get back to normal" (93%). Respondents also selected "because I work in healthcare, I need to be a role model" (79%).
CommonSpirit employees are role modeling for their respective communities by getting vaccinated themselves—69% of black respondents and 77% of Hispanic respondents have either been vaccinated, are scheduled to be vaccinated, or say that they are "very likely" to get vaccinated. This is higher than recent studies from the Pew Research Center reporting that 42% of black and 63% of Hispanic U.S. adults said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Vaccine hesitancy is a real issue in the communities we serve—especially in communities of color—and we have to overcome a long-standing history of mistrust in the medical system," said Alisahah Cole, MD, CommonSpirit system vice president, population health, innovation, and policy.
Distrust in vaccines in general or fear they may get COVID-19 from the vaccine are the reasons black adults cite for refusing the vaccine, the Kaiser study says.
"With care sites in hundreds of communities across the country, we have an opportunity and responsibility to build trust," Cole said, "and our employees can play a powerful role in encouraging others to get the COVID-19 vaccine, especially in vulnerable populations."
“As one of America's largest health systems, we hope that the positive action of our employees is a bellwether for the entire healthcare industry.”
Kathleen Sanford, DBA, RN, CommonSpirit Health Chief Nursing Officer
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Photo credit: Gabriel Petrescu / Shutterstock.com
About 80% of CommonSpirit Health's 150,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated, are scheduled to be vaccinated, or say that they are "very likely" to get vaccinated.
CommonSpirit Health encouraged employees to get vaccinated through an education and awareness program focused on debunking COVID-19 vaccine myths.
The top two reasons employees chose to get vaccinated were "desire to protect my family" and "reduce the chance of me infecting others."