With thousands of California’s frontline hospital workers refusing to take new Covid-19 vaccines, the mainstream media faced the awkward task of explaining why those seen as most knowledgeable would take a pass on inoculation.
The Los Angeles Times reported the numbers, suggesting that hospital staffers – whom the media has praised as selfless heroes of the pandemic – perhaps weren’t as “in tune with the scientific data” as public health officials might have expected. After pointing out the potentially “disastrous” implications of surprisingly low vaccine acceptance among healthcare workers, the newspaper found a familiar culprit: the Trump administration.
“It’s certainly disappointing, but it’s not shocking, given what the federal administration has done over the past 10 months,” Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, told the Times. “Trust science. It’s about science, and reality, and what’s right.”
Hospital and nursing home workers were given top priority to receive the first doses of the two Covid-19 vaccines that have received emergency use authorization in the US – both to protect those most exposed to the virus and to sell the general public on the safety of getting the shots. But in Los Angeles County, up to 40 percent of frontline workers balked at being vaccinated. The numbers were even worse in some other areas, including 50 percent in Riverside County, the Times said.
Less than half of eligible staff at St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Tehama County agreed to receive the vaccines. St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff returned 200 of the 495 doses that it had been given. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 29 percent of healthcare workers were “vaccine hesitant,” exceeding the average of 27 percent for the population at large.
Alarm bells were set off. The Times assigned five reporters, including one-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Jack Dolan, to explain what went wrong. Their efforts to discredit the workers or blame the Trump administration weren’t entirely successful.
“Our colleagues are not dropping dead – pure risk-benefit assessment by smart people,” one Twitter user said. “Why would they take a vax?” Another said the “tone-deaf media” is blind to the truth that hospital workers who are refusing the vaccine are, in fact, most in tune with the science. Still another observer asked, “Doesn’t this say something about how the people who see the disease every day feel about the risk and the seriousness of the disease?”
Healthcare workers have been working around the virus for the past year. Our colleagues are NOT dropping dead. Pure risk/benefit assessment by smart people. Why would they take a vax?
— SaveOurRepublic🔥 (@TurnOffCNN) December 31, 2020
Tone-deaf media blind to the fact that those healthcare workers refusing the vaccine are “among those most in tune with the scientific data behind the vaccines.”
— Chris (@colsonslife) December 31, 2020
Doesnt this say something about how the people who see the disease everyday feel about the risk and the seriousness of the disease?
— Tom Nevin (@tom_nevin) December 31, 2020
The Times quoted a 31-year-old nurse, April Lu, who made just such a calculation. She said that because she’s six months pregnant, she chose the known risks of being infected with Covid-19 over the unknown risks of being vaccinated.
Vaccine advocates reacted angrily, with some saying hospital workers who refuse the shots should be fired, or at least put at the back of the line for treatment if they become infected with the virus. “I can’t believe this is happening,” one observer said. “This has to be a joke. How are people in the healthcare industry but ignore science?”
I think it’s fine if they keep working, but if they catch covid and need to be administered to the hospital they should be bumped to the very back of the line so everyone in front can get whatever treatment they need first 🤷🏻♂️
— Thomas Small (@TommySmallV) December 31, 2020
Author Alex Berenson said he was only shocked that the Times reported on reality. “All the editors are on vacation?” he quipped.
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