At the beginning of prioritized health care personnel (HPC) immunization, there was a high rate of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and receipt, with physicians and advance practice providers having the highest overall proportion. These are the findings of a surveillance project on COVID-19 vaccination rates among emergency department staff at United States academic medical centers, which will be published in the April issue of the Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM) journal, a peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM).
The project report, published in a research letter titled Vaccination rates and acceptance of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination among U.S. emergency department health care personnel, also found that a substantial percentage of emergency department HPCs declined vaccination, primarily due to concerns over safety. Because of this, the authors suggest that efforts at educating HCPs about the safety profile of COVID-19 vaccines may be warranted, especially in groups that had the most vaccine (i.e., nonclinical, nursing, and Black HCPs).
The lead author of the report is Walter A. Schrading, MD, of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Alabama, Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama. The project findings are discussed with Dr. Schrading in a recent AEM Early Access podcast.
Commenting on the study is Elizabeth Goldberg, MD, an associate professor of emergency medicine and health services, policy & practice at Brown University. Her research focuses on improving emergency care for older adults and she is the cofounder of MyCovidRisk.app, a web-based tool to help individuals estimate their COVID-19 risk and reduce their risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
“This study by Schrading and Trent et al. demonstrates that emergency department physicians and advance practice providers almost never declined COVID-19 vaccination (<5% refusals) when offered and still intend to wear the same amount of personal protective equipment during their clinical work. The study authors also found that one in five nurses and nonclinical health care workers (e.g., clerks, social workers) declined vaccination in January 2021 during the initial vaccination campaign targeting health care workers in the U.S. Vaccination rates may have improved now that nearly 620 million doses have been administered worldwide with only rare safety events, and 30% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose. Public health efforts to address safety concerns that emphasize the remarkable efficacy of the approved vaccines should continue to enhance vaccination rates. To achieve herd immunity, we need as many people as possible to accept the vaccine, not only people who are in direct contact with patients in hospitals.”