Only 30% of long-term facility staff in state want COVID-19 vaccine, data shows

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — One of the top priorities in the state’s vaccine roll-out has been long-term care facilities.

But while thousands of residents get their shot, the state is noticing an issue at these facilities with staff members: The majority of them have turned down the shot.

While 70% percent of long-term care residents in the state want the vaccine, only 30% of the staff doses.

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And agency leaders said the low staff vaccination rate is causing concern.

“The staff then are at more a risk to each other,” said Dr. Lindsay Peterson with University of South Florida. “(Employees could) pass it along to a resident who maybe hasn’t been able to get the vaccine yet, or for some reason, can’t take the vaccine.”

But why is there such a drastic disparity between residents and staff wanting the vaccine?

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“I think people who are more vulnerable to an illness are more willing to be vaccinated for it,” Peterson said. “They were really bearing the brunt of this seeing the people in their in their facilities get sick and die.”

The CEO of Florida’s Assisted Living Association said the main reason she’s hearing for the low rate among staff is how quickly the vaccines were rolled out.

Another reason is the make-up of this industry’s staff, groups that have experienced hesitancy about the vaccine: African-American, Hispanic and other minorities.

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“Distrust is something that can be overcome through conversation in some cases,” Peterson said.

The state is hoping that when the clinics for the second dose come around to these facilities, staff members who sat out the first time will decide to get the shot.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.