Up to half of healthcare workers in some parts of California are refusing to take the coronavirus vaccine, despite scientific evidence that it is safe.
This could lead to a potential surplus of doses and renewed questions about the system for allocating them, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.
At St Elizabeth Community Hospital in Tehama County, fewer than half of the 700 hospital workers eligible for the vaccine were willing to take the shot when it was offered.
Up to 40% of LA County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine also refused, according to county public health officials.
So many frontline workers in Riverside County have refused the vaccine – an estimated 50% – that hospital and public officials have met to strategise how best to distribute the unused doses, Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Times.
The extent to which American healthcare workers from other states are refusing the vaccine is unclear but reports of lower-than-expected participation rates are emerging around the US, raising concerns for epidemiologists who say the public health implications could be disastrous.
Some healthcare workers are sceptical of vaccines; others worry that the development of the coronavirus vaccine may have been rushed.
Still others believe that because they have been able to avoid infection for months by wearing masks and taking other precautions, they can continue to do so, the LA Times reports.
Debate continues about the best way to distribute the vaccine. Florida has adopted a first-come, first-served approach for the elderly, leading to criticism – but also to a potentially faster rollout to a vulnerable population.
President-elect Joe Biden, who criticised President Trump’s vaccine development efforts during the presidential campaign, complained earlier this week that “the Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind”.