Study finds 15% of health care workers are refusing COVID-19 vaccine
Published: March 2, 2021
On Sunday, Feb. 21 the United States surpassed half a million deaths at the hands of COVID-19. But while some Americans are joining in a collective sigh of relief as access to COVID-19 vaccines are on the verge of becoming more readily available to the masses—President Joe Biden said on March 2 that every American adult will have access to a dose by the end of May—a significant number of those already with access are declining.
In partnership with Pollfish, at the end of January, we surveyed 600 health care workers across the United States. Fifteen percent said they have not received the vaccine and don’t plan to. Another three percent said they probably wouldn’t be getting it. Sixty percent said they would get it along with 16 percent who said they probably would. Seven percent were undecided.
- Over 1/2 of the health care workers refusing the COVID-19 vaccine are clinical staff working directly with patients.
- A lack of long-term data and concern over how quickly it was developed are the main reasons some health care workers are declining the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Health care workers refusing the COVID-19 vaccine are 70 percent women.
- Education no indicator: Nearly half of those refusing the vaccine hold a 4-year college degree.
Lack of long-term results is the main reason health care workers aren’t getting vaccinated
Of the health care workers who said they would not be getting the vaccine, 34 percent pointed to a lack of long-term testing data as their reason why.
At 45 percent, nearly half of the respondents who said a lack of long-term testing is their major drawback are aged 25-35. The youngest age group we surveyed, health care workers 18-24, favored two answers above the rest: the speed at which the vaccine was developed and a general lack of trust for any vaccines. The 18-24 age group made up 22 percent of those who selected “speed at which the vaccine was developed is concerning” and 29 percent of those who selected “I don’t trust any vaccine.” Making up 37 percent of their answers, the speed at which the vaccine was developed is the primary concern of the oldest age group we surveyed, 54 and up.
Over 1/2 of those refusing the vaccine work directly with patients
Of the health care workers who said they have not and will not be receiving the vaccine, 58 percent are clinical staff who work directly with patients. At 35 percent, the main reason clinical workers are turning down the vaccine is due to a lack of long-term testing data. Close behind, 31 percent were concerned with the speed at which the vaccine was developed and 15 percent said they don’t trust any vaccines.
Second to clinical staff in declining the vaccine is administrative staff at 22 percent, followed by who chose “other” at 12 percent and housekeeping/maintenance at eight percent.
1/3 of health care workers declining vaccine were born within the same decade
Among health care workers declining the vaccine, those aged 25-34 are leading the way, making up 31 percent of the pool. In second and third are those aged 35-44 (24 percent) and 18-24 (21 percent).
Nearly 1/2 of those refusing the vaccine hold a 4-year college degree
Our survey found that health care workers with a four-year post-secondary education are the least likely education demographic to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Forty-eight percent of those with an undergraduate degree said hadn’t received the vaccine and didn’t plan on ever getting it. That number is cut in half among those with a postgraduate degree, dropping to 20 percent. Thirty-two percent of health care workers with only a high school diploma said they won’t be getting the vaccine.
Women are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine over twice the rate of men
Our survey found a significant disparity between genders when examining who’s declining the COVID-19 vaccine. Seventy percent of health care workers who are declining the vaccine are women.
This dichotomy becomes even more drastic when looking at clinical staff (direct patient) in a vacuum with 75% percent of those declining being women.
1/4 of health care workers refusing the vaccine have already had COVID-19
Our survey bears out that 25 percent of the health care workers declining the COVID-19 vaccination have already had it. This decision is most prominent among 25 through 44-year-olds: 28 percent among those aged 18–25 and 30 percent among those 35–44.
The number of declinations was again highest among health care workers with direct patient access at 61 percent.
Despite pandemic, over 20% of health care providers still aren’t offering telehealth
Despite the rising popularity of virtual trips to the doctor due to the pandemic, our survey found 23 percent of health care providers still aren’t offering telehealth services. What’s more, the data did not indicate that offering telehealth was having the perceived effect. We asked health care workers whose employers did offer telehealth if they’d seen a decrease in in-person visits—the results are split down the middle. Forty-one percent say they have seen a decrease and 41 percent say they haven’t; 18 percent said they couldn’t tell.