OBJECTIVE: The vaccination of skilled nursing facility (SNF) staff is a critical component in the battle against COVID-19 . Together, residents and staff constitute the single most vulnerable population in the pandemic . The health of these workers is completely entangled with the health of those they care for . Vaccination of SNF staff is key to increasing uptake of the vaccine, reducing health disparities, and reopening SNFs to visitors . Yet, as the vaccine rollout begins, some SNF staff are declining to be vaccinated . The purpose of this article is to describe reasons for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy reported by staff of skilled nursing facilities and understand factors that could potentially reduce hesitancy .
DESIGN: Five virtual focus groups were conducted with staff of SNFs as part of a larger project to improve vaccine uptake .
PARTICIPANTS: Focus groups with 58 staff members were conducted virtually using Zoom . MEASURES: Focus groups sought to elicit concerns, perspectives, and experiences related to COVID-19 testing and vaccination .
RESULTS: Our findings indicate that some SNF staff are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine . Reasons for this hesitancy include beliefs that the vaccine has been developed too fast and without sufficient testing; personal fears about pre-existing medical conditions, and more general distrust of the government .
IMPLICATIONS: SNF staff indicate that seeing people like themselves receive the vaccination is more important than seeing public figures . We discuss the vaccination effort as a social enterprise and the need to develop long-term care provider-academic-community partnerships in response to COVID-19 and in expectation of future pandemics.