Healthcare worker vaccinates young woman

Employees within senior living and care facilities now say they are much more amenable to getting vaccinated for COVID-19 than they were in December, according to survey results collected by human capital management software company OnShift. 

The Cleveland-based firm found a 94% increase in willingness to take the vaccine this month, as well as a 41% decrease in plans to decline, compared with its initial survey in December. Fully 62% of respondents expressed their willingness to take the vaccine in the March survey, up from 32% in December.

Several factors contributed to this seismic shift in vaccine acceptance, according to OnShift CEO Mark Woodka. Before the company’s first survey, he noted, the industry hadn’t yet begun vaccinations, but by the time of the second poll, 53% of long-term care employees had received the vaccine. 

“People were able to see how safe and effective the vaccine has been,” Woodka told the McKnight’s Business Daily. “They became more comfortable with it, and I believe that alleviated a lot of concern.” 

He also credited the industry’s heavy investment in educational resources and campaigns about the vaccine, which he said also helped drive the shift toward greater acceptance.

Respondents’ primary reasons for declining vaccination, according to poll results, included concerns that the vaccine is too new (26%) and potential safety and side effects (23%). Another 10% of participants said they believed that getting the vaccine is unnecessary because they already have had COVID-19. Respondents cited the need for additional education on the safety and side effects of the vaccine (28%), how the vaccine works in protecting against COVID-19 (15%) and what to expect in the workplace if they decline the vaccine (14%).

The vaccine, Woodka noted, was developed in record time based on a new technology that many people didn’t and maybe still don’t fully understand.

“Our paradigm has been that vaccines take years to develop,” he said. “It was difficult for people to accept that it is possible to develop a safe vaccine in nine months.”

OnShift first conducted the senior living and care employee vaccine willingness survey from Dec. 4 to 14, with more 6,000 respondents. The second survey was conducted Feb. 12 to March 5, with more 2,300 respondents.

Read about the results of a Kaiser Family Foundation / Washington Post survey about vaccine hesitancy among senior living and other frontline healthcare workers in McKnight’s Senior Living here.