Image of a clinician/healthcare worker with digital device and mask

A March survey shows a major shift in eldercare workers’ willingness to receive a coronavirus vaccination, with a 94% increase in respondents who said they would consider getting a shot and a 41% decrease in intention to decline.

The survey is the second of two conducted by industry vendor OnShift during the pandemic. In its most recent survey, which covers Feb. 12 to March 5, fully 62% of respondents declared a willingness to get a shot, up from 32% in December 2020.

Primary reasons for not getting the vaccines were that the drugs are “too new,” and concerns about safety and side effects. Some workers (10%) believed that they were protected by having had COVID-19, which other studies have found is not entirely true.

In addition, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Washington Post has found that the top reasons for vaccine hesitancy among long-term care and other healthcare workers includes concerns about safety and efficacy, the newness of the COVID-19 vaccine, and distrust of the government.

Healthcare workers are a trusted vaccine information source

In the meantime, the larger population is looking to healthcare workers for answers to their vaccine questions and concerns.

Outside of the eldercare workforce shift, the overall COVID vaccination hesitancy appears to remain largely unchanged, at 23% nationally, according to the latest data from a daily population survey from researchers with Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook. Their survey in January and February found that vaccine-hesitant adults are more likely to get a shot if the recommendation comes from local healthcare workers. 

“Additionally, trust in local healthcare workers among vaccine-hesitant adults has increased significantly over the last four weeks while trust in other information sources has remained unchanged or even decreased,” the researchers reported.

The Carnegie Mellon-Facebook survey also found that the percentage of vaccine-hesitant adults who are concerned about experiencing a side effect is high — at 70% — and has remained stable over time. This would be another factor to address in messaging, the researchers say.

Factors that OnShift survey respondents said might make them feel more comfortable about getting vaccinated is more education on what to expect in the workplace if they choose not to get the vaccine (14%) and more information about how the vaccines work. Those who have already been vaccinated said their wish to protect family members and friends from infection was a top reason for doing so.