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Kentucky long-term care facilities see vaccine hesitancy among staff

Published: Feb. 6, 2021 at 10:35 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new report from the CDC shows than less 50% of long-term care facility employees in Kentucky are not vaccinated.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, several members of the field chose not to get their doses.

Karen Venis, the executive director of Sayre Christian Village, said she sees a similar trend at her facility.

“About half of our staff members have either had their first and/or the second dose at this point,” Venis said.

Sayre Christian Village has held four vaccine clinics through its partnership with CVS, with two left on the schedule.

Venis said their roll out has been successful, but some of her employees have chosen to pass up their shots.

“We are seeing that staff are somewhat hesitant and that’s because they share a lot of the same opinions as the general public,” she said.

Public health officials have said the vaccine has undergone rigorous clinical trials and testing as other vaccines do. They have deemed the vaccines safe.

Venis said she’s working on providing education, and some employees have come around.

“We’ve had a lot of folks that have been on the fence or have said ‘I’m not going to get it, I don’t feel ready,’ and they’ve already transitioned and changed their mind, because I do think there’s a big part of group effect in this,” Venis said.

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, there is more to the data on how many long-term care workers have received the vaccine and when.

A representative said the CDC report has ‘limitations’ that leads them to believe the number of vaccinated long-term care facility staff members is higher than reported.

The representative said some employees received their vaccine outside of their facility’s clinic partnership through CVS Health and Walgreens, meaning they weren’t counted in the reporting. They also explained staffing schedules could have prevented members from getting vaccinated recently. They added, the less than 50% figure didn’t account for any staffing turnover in some facilities.

Venis explained the demographics of long-term care workers could play a role.

“We employ a lot of females who are of that child bearing age and when you’re looking at hesitancy that’s one big piece of it,” she said. “We employ a lot of females and African American females as well, and there is hesitancy in the African American class.”

The vaccine is not mandatory at Sayre Christian Village.

“There is some fear of, if you make it mandatory, are you essentially crippling yourself in terms of your staffing availability?,” Venis said.

She said doesn’t want another outbreak, but she’s confident the numbers will trend upward, slowly.

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