Gary Tetz

One of many puzzling memories from my childhood is witnessing my father’s failed attempt late one dark Canadian night to convince an unwilling horse to walk up a rickety ramp into the back of our pickup truck. Tugging from the front didn’t work. Prodding from the back was equally ineffective. Multiple people pulling and pushing from both ends, and even a bucket of oats, couldn’t convince that hesitant creature to change its mind. 

My point is that countering vaccine hesitancy among long-term care staff is a bit like trying to get a horse into the back of a truck. When someone doesn’t want to climb that ramp, no strategy seems to consistently work. It’s all very puzzling and sad.

Now, it’s important at this point to recognize that there certainly are those who have good, logical, well-considered reasons to avoid vaccination. But from my observation, the person who chooses not to take the vaccine based on a thoughtful, open-minded, well-researched decision-making process is extremely rare, like a Peruvian black spider monkey. They do exist, but we’re not likely to meet one personally.* 

The problem of low staff vaccination rates is frustrating, and smarter people than I have weighed in on how to solve it. But since I’m known as nothing but an eternal optimist who always looks on the bright side, I’d like to suggest that someone’s decision not to be vaccinated may have a silver lining to your hiring process. It reveals a lot about a person and could come in handy weeding out inferior candidates in job interviews.

For your reference, here’s a short list of qualifying interview questions you should ask every candidate:

Do you avoid sunscreen?

Do you ride a motorcycle without a helmet?

Do you eat raw chicken?

Do you point the loaded gun at yourself while cleaning it?

Do you ride in the backseat of a driverless Tesla?

Do you refuse to take a proven-safe and absurdly effective vaccine that could save your life and help end a catastrophic global pandemic?

If you ask me, these are all questions that go to the essence of a prospective candidate’s thought process, character and desire for self-preservation. A “yes” to any of them means he or she might not be the best or brightest candidate to be taking care of seniors. Or anyone, for that matter. 

It will still be disappointing to meet an otherwise promising prospective employee who has chosen not to be vaccinated, but at least learning that bit of information now should make your hiring decision much easier. 

*Let’s remember that my column is called Things I Think, not Things I Can Prove.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.