Skepticism kept Megan, a medical staff coordinator at Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center, from getting a COVID-19 vaccine despite witnessing several providers’ excitement to receive the first dose. “I was petrified,” she reveals. “I thought, NO WAY am I getting that shot.” While Megan had discussed her personal reservations with a close colleague and trusted physicians, she was not persuaded: “Even though I know I have underlying health issues, including partial lung damage, diabetes, and, I admit, some extra weight, I was still not convinced.”
Megan is not alone.
In December, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey reported 66 percent of U.S. adults were hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, as vaccination rates rose through the end of 2020 and into January 2021, confidence in the vaccine rose as well. A recent poll shows a rising tide of favorability toward vaccination, with 70 percent of U.S. adults saying they have already received the vaccine or will do so as soon as it is available to them.
Why are minds changing? We trust our peers.
Apprehension slowly gave way to curiosity after Megan began working in the hospital’s vaccine center. This led to more conversations with physicians and staff, allowing Megan to evaluate her position and ultimately change her decision to get the vaccine. “How could I be so selfish and not protect the people I love, and the front-line staff who worked so hard during the height of the pandemic? I got the shot for them.”
Getting vaccinated is a personal decision, and one Megan realized hits close to home.
“My why? My why are my two beautiful nieces who are my life, who I had not hugged or played with for months. My new nephew, who I couldn’t hold or see until he was already three months, and of course, baby Ryan, who I have yet to meet, but can’t wait to hold.” Megan further explains, “My why are my colleagues and the doctors and nurses who continue to do everything to protect us and care for our patients - I got my shot for you.”
A survey of caregivers at UT Health East Texas asked the same simple question: “What is your ‘why’ or motivating reason for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?” Here are a few poignant responses.
- “Being an example for family members and friends.”
- “To see my granddaughter grow up.”
- “It’s the right thing to do. This is going to take a village.”
- “Protecting family and friends. My Nana is 92.”
- “I believe that it is my responsibility as a caregiver to stay as healthy as possible in order to provide the best for our patients.”
For team members still hesitant about vaccination, Megan explains, “The aftermath of the vaccine was great, I had no side effects at all. If you are scared, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Call or talk to other team members who have received it. We are making history together. Let’s do the right thing to stay safe.”
As of March 9, 2021, 52 percent of all Ardent employees have received the first dose and 48 percent have received the second dose. With more than 100 million doses administered across the U.S. by mid-March, we are still several months from achieving a 70 percent vaccination rate estimated to reach herd immunity. I echo Megan’s encouragement to continue the conversation with those you trust. It is critically important that we all do our part to help end this pandemic.