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Health Watch: Vaccine hesitancy

Medical experts weigh in on vaccine hesitancy.

CONNECTICUT, USA — A big factor in when this pandemic ends will be how many people get the vaccine, which, in turn, depends on how well medical experts can address vaccine hesitancy. 

Even people who work in the health care field aren’t immune from concerns. Yale-New Haven Health addressed this topic late last week. Officials said at the time that about 70% of employees have gotten the vaccine – about 34,000 people. However, they are expecting those numbers to grow.

“We are continuing to leave those invitations active and we’re still seeing folks accepting invitations and making appointments for their first vaccine,” said Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the Chief Clinical Officer of Yale-New Haven Hospital.

To be clear, they are invitations, not requirements. Hospital officials said it’s up to each employee to decide whether or not to get the vaccine, although they’re all being encouraged to get vaccinated.

“The way we are approaching this is with a gentle hand and we are spending a lot of time trying to make sure that the information the people need in order to make their decisions, that they have that information,” said Balcezak.

Yale-New Haven Health officials said there have been proportionately more hesitancy among employees of color, with a 57% vaccination rate for Latino employees, and an even lower rate for Black employees.

“Our African American, Black colleagues have been slower to adopt but we’re at about 40 percent now for that employee population,” said Marna Borgstrom, the CEO of Yale-New Haven Health.

Officials said every successful vaccination will help in more ways than in just knocking down this latest wave - they could also determine the virus’ ultimate destiny.

“I’d like to see it completely eradicated but I’m not sure, given what we’re seeing around vaccine hesitancy with only 70% of our own workers willing to get the vaccine,” said Balcezak, “I’m not sure we can get to eradication unless we can get that number to up closer to 90 or 100%.”