ATLANTA (CBS46) -- As health officials warn about the “more aggressive and much more transmissible” delta variant, some health care workers on the frontlines of the pandemic remain among the skeptics refusing the vaccines.
After months of working on hospital COVID units, Danielle Corff wasted no time in December getting vaccinated.
“I think it’s important to end this,” she said. “As a nurse and someone who believes in science, I do believe in vaccinations.”
For fellow traveling nurse, Victoria Grant, the decision wasn’t that simple. The 40-year-old felt the vaccines were rushed and worried about possible long-term side effects.
“I didn’t want to take such a new vaccine,” Grant said. “I was just going to wait it out.”
That is until she was assigned to care for a COVID patient her age. Grant said, before the virus, the patient was healthy. She had a family and so much to lose. That experience lead Grant to get the vaccine in March.
“It took everything in me not to cry inside because she was just so helpless,” she said. “It reminded of me when my mom was in the ICU and we waited 3 weeks for her to wake up. I decide in that moment I would not have my family wait for me to wake up.”
Data collected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and analyzed by WebMD and Medscape Medical News, showed as of the end of May, one in four hospital workers nationwide had not received a single dose of the vaccine.
Brandon Dunn refuses to get the shot. The traveling nurse said he’s already been exposed to the virus.
"As far as the data I’ve seen the vaccine has a limited time of effectiveness," he said. "So, why is there such a push for me to get a vaccine? "
Dunn added that he's also hesitant of the vaccine because of “mixed messaging” about the virus and safety measures since the start of the pandemic.
“They need to convey to me there are good, objective reasons to run out and a get the vaccine,” Dunn said. “This vaccine has been expediated, pushed through the FDA and they’ve removed the ability, if you have an adverse reaction to it or die from it, you can’t even get a lawyer and sue.”
On Wednesday, the American Hospital Association announced it supports hospitals and health systems that require their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. CBS46 reached out to nearly a dozen area hospitals requesting their employee vaccination data and if they are considering vaccine mandates. We received the following responses:
“Grady staff vaccination rate stands at 57%. No decision has been made regarding mandatory staff vaccinations.”
“Emory Healthcare strongly encourages our health care employees and providers without medical contraindications to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect our patients, themselves, each other and our community. Emory vaccine clinics have been set up at a centralized location and at our hospitals to facilitate convenient access for our health care workers. More than two-thirds of our workforce has been vaccinated. If employees and physicians receive their vaccination at Emory, no further action is needed to show proof of vaccination. If they receive a vaccination outside of Emory, they must upload their CDC vaccination card to the Emory human resources system. To date, Emory Healthcare has administered more than 181,000 COVID-19 vaccinations to Emory Healthcare patients and staff, Emory University faculty, staff and students and community members since December 2020.
While Emory Healthcare is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccination for its employees at this time, we expect that this will become a requirement similar to our existing seasonal flu vaccination requirement.”
Northside Hospital System
“Northside is not requiring our frontline workers to get the COVID vaccine. However, we recognize what a critically vulnerable population our patients at Northside Gwinnett Extended Care Center and Northside Gwinnett Joan Glancy are. Our employees embraced the policy that vaccines would be required for any staff who work in those facilities. Staff who chose not to be vaccinated were successfully redeployed to other facilities within our five-hospital system.
Because a vaccination is a medical procedure, employee medical information has to be protected. We are compiling employee vaccination data, but not submitting to other groups at this time.”
Corff said she understands the skepticism across the country and her industry, but she said she would rather be safe than sorry.
“We’re coming into close contact with these patients,” she said. “If someone’s infected, we can pass it along to patients. I encourage people to get the [vaccine].”