Skepticism about the vaccine among doctors raises alarm in Europe and the US

Many healthcare providers are suspicious of the messenger RNA technology in the BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna vaccines


The reluctance of health workers to get vaccinated causes another headache in countries that fight Covid-19.

Signs that a relatively high number of healthcare workers are reluctant to receive the coronavirus vaccine in parts of Europe and the United States has raised alarm among politicians and healthcare experts as countries struggle to contain a spike in the contagions and carry out mass vaccinations. A poll released in mid-December hi

Zo jump the surprise in Germany – which had been at the forefront of the race to find a vaccine with the biotech company BioNTech – by showing that half of the nurses surveyed and a quarter of the doctors did not want to be vaccinated. Those fears came to the fore again this week after the political leader of one of the German states reported that only a third of health workers in his region were willing to get the vaccine. A high degree of reluctance has also been observed among medical personnel in the rest of Europe and in the USA. In France, 76% of nursing home staff said they did not want to be vaccinated, according to a survey of 2,000 workers in the sector last month. In Austria, only half of the staff in nursing homes in the Vorarlberg region said they were willing to get vaccinated, according to the Austrian public television network. The Italian Federation of Professional Medical Associations (FNOMCEO) reported that around 100 doctors across the country did not want to receive immunization. In the US, a survey published last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation healthcare think-tank found that 29% of US healthcare workers probably or definitely will not get vaccinated, a proportion slightly higher than the average for the population as a whole (27% ). Anecdotal evidence from the first weeks of the process in the US suggests that nursing homes are especially reluctant to get vaccinated. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently stated that he was “concerned” by the relatively low number of nursing home nurses getting the vaccine, with about 60% declining the dose. Asked yesterday about distrust of the vaccine among health workers, German Health Minister Jens Spahn assured that his ministry only had anecdotal data, with clearly divergent results. He explained that in some nursing homes only 20% of the doctors had been vaccinated, while in others the figure was 80%. But he noted that the data showed that regular flu vaccination among physicians was “unfortunately very, very below average.” “Promoting vaccination of healthcare workers is very important. We work in an environment full of vulnerable people, we have a responsibility to put it on,” said Uwe Janssens, the author of the German survey published last month. “If the population sees that health workers are not convinced, how will that affect our society?” Janssens, general secretary of the German Association for Internal Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, decided to carry out the survey after hearing from several nurses expressing concern about the new messenger RNA technology used by the two approved BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. by the EU. Among the 2,305 respondents, many feared long-term side effects, while female nurses expressed concern about how it might affect their ability to become pregnant. According to Janssens, many of the interviewees appeared to have seen anti-vaccine videos posted on the Internet. Skepticism about vaccines may already be affecting healthcare in parts of Germany. On Tuesday, Bodo Ramelow, the political leader of the state of Thuringia, referred to a clinic in the city of Eisenach that stopped accepting Covid-19 patients – not because it did not have enough beds, but because 100 of the employees themselves were already there. sick or quarantined. Germany, struggling to contain the second wave of Covid-19, has not imposed a legal obligation to get the vaccine, although some workers’ rights lawyers warn that doctors could potentially face dismissal if their employers argued that pose a health risk to patients. In Italy, authorities are investigating 13 doctors accused of propagandizing against vaccines or playing down the severity of the virus. “I am perplexed every time I hear fellow doctors or nurses reluctant to get vaccinated,” said Pierpaolo Sileri, Italy’s Secretary of State for Health. “I can understand it from a citizen who does not have scientific knowledge, but honestly, I think that those doctors and nurses, if they still have doubts after seeing everything that has happened, they are probably doing the wrong job.” Markus Sder, the minister-president of the German state of Bavaria, warned on Tuesday of the need for a public campaign to “encourage support, not only to increase vaccinations, but also to the willingness to accept this vaccine. It is something that is subject to intense debate. ” However, the latest surveys on vaccine acceptance suggest that public trust is not increasing. In spring, 79% of those surveyed by the University of Erfurt in Germany were willing to get vaccinated, while in September the figure had dropped to 56%. Last month, a YouGov poll suggested that 32% of Germans were willing to get vaccinated right away, while another 33% wanted to see how the first round of vaccinations progressed. In France, where the vaccination campaign is progressing slowly, only 40% of people surveyed by Ipsos last week said they planned to get vaccinated, up from 54% in October and 59% in August. Despite the misgivings, Janssens believes that the trend among doctors will change after the first round. “I am hopeful that others will follow suit,” he says. “But it is very important to note that we have to give information to these people now.”

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