Caregiver vaccination chart

The Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has done little to instill confidence in vaccine safety and effectiveness for unvaccinated caregivers, according to the results of a new survey.

A and Pollfish survey of 2,000 caregivers — 1,000 professional and 1,000 unpaid — found that one in three (31%) unvaccinated caregivers, overall, say they will refuse the shot, now marketed under the brand name Comirnaty — up from 19% prior to full FDA approval. Of professional caregivers, 28.4% reported they would refuse the shot indefinitely, up from 22.2% in the prior survey. 

Overall, professional caregivers reported slightly less hesitation than unpaid caregivers in getting vaccinated, but that hesitation actually increased after the FDA’s announcement. The study contrasts responses from caregivers three days after the FDA’s announcement with responses to the same survey conducted 10 days before the announcement.

The bottom line is, full FDA approval did not motivate caregivers to take steps toward vaccination.

“While it’s expected that the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine would take more time to increase the number of fully vaccinated caregivers, the fact that it has not motivated caregivers to take concrete steps towards full vaccination is concerning,” according to a report on the survey. “Overall, there is no substantial shift in the number of fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated caregivers between the survey completed before the FDA’s announcement and the survey completed afterward.”

Although lack of full approval of vaccines was the main reason for caregivers doubting its safety, more caregivers turned against the vaccine and actually are less trusting of its safety after full FDA approval, according to survey responses.

Overall, 35% of vaccine-hesitant paid and unpaid caregivers now say they have concerns about the safety and testng of the COVID-19 vaccines, up from 29% before the announcement. When it comes to professional caregivers, 28.4% reported that they have concerns about safety and testing of vaccines, up from 20.8% in the prior survey.

“Counterintuitively, more caregivers are saying they distrust the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccines now than prior to the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine — 20% more doubt the safety of the COVID vaccines, while 13% more now doubt their effectiveness,” a report on the survey stated. “Additionally, more caregivers also list a general distrust of vaccines as a reason for remaining unvaccinated.”

More than half of vaccine-hesitant paid and unpaid caregivers still say they would rather lose their jobs than get a shot under an employer vaccine mandate. When it comes to mandates, not a lot has changed from the prior survey; for professional caregivers, the number of undecideds on vaccination when required rose from 22% to 26%, whereas the number who said they would get the vaccine dropped from 26% to 22%. 

“Based on this data, mandates may be the only remaining step that will significantly impact caregivers’ decision to get the shot,” the report stated.

The survey also revealed that participating paid and unpaid caregivers now are more willing to believe that COVID-19 is a hoax. Survey results showed that more than one in 10 caregivers still believe COVID-19 is a hoax and not an actual health crisis. The percentage of professional caregivers who said that coronavirus is a hoax or not a crisis (12% and 8.2%, respectively) in the latest survey remained unchanged from the prior survey.