Nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have begun to convince their employees that it’s safe to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Those who work in nursing homes were first offered the vaccine in late December and early January, along with residents of long-term care facilities and other health care workers. Many of the people who fall into those categories, however, have been reluctant to receive it.
“Nursing home staff is a diverse population that includes people of color who have a history that includes concerns about what they perceive as experimental vaccines,” Joseph DeMattos, the president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, said. “Also, they have a mistrust of a vaccine developed during the previous presidential administration.”
DeMattos attributed this reluctance among employees to a number of reasons, including fear, false information found online and a lack of outreach on the federal government’s part. However, a second round of vaccines appears to be getting more takers among staff, he said.
“They’re talking to coworkers who got it during the first round, and that’s convincing them to get it," DeMattos said.
With more vaccines on the way, many are hoping that reliable information will convince staff members to get vaccinated themselves.
"Nursing home-employed chaplains, peer-to-peer leaders and people observing their colleagues take the vaccine" may be making the difference in helping employees get vaccinated, DeMattos said.
Arlington County, Virginia has created a grassroots volunteer effort to disseminate factual information about the vaccine.
"We're working every day to increase the uptake of workers in nursing homes, assisted living and frankly across all healthcare settings to take the vaccine," DeMattos said.