After 110K Virus Deaths, Nursing Homes Face Vaccine Fears
After 110,000 deaths ravaged the nation's nursing homes and pushed them to the front of the vaccine line, they now face a vexing problem: Skeptical residents and workers balking at getting the shots.
Being first has come with persistent fears that the places hit hardest in the pandemic — accounting for nearly 40% of the nation's death toll — could be put at risk again by vaccines sped into development in months rather than years. Some who live and work in homes question if enough testing was done on the elderly, if enough is known of side effects and if the shots could do more harm than good.
As the U.S. begins shipping out freezer-packed vials of newly approved vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, public health officials say the answer is yes.
In an ongoing study of nearly 44,000 people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the vaccine was safe and more than 90% effective across recipients of different ages, including older adults and those with health problems that put them at high risk of COVID-19.
But the undercurrent of doubt in nursing homes persists, sometimes fueled by divisive politics, distrust of institutions and misinformation. And so far, the workers are the ones being heard the loudest.
"I will not be the test dummy," wrote one respondent to a survey by the National Association of Health Care Assistants. "It's not going to be safe and I won't trust it," added another. Some respondents just answered, "No way!"
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