About 1 in 8 nurses hasn't gotten a COVID-19 vaccine or doesn't plan to get one, a new survey finds, setting up the potential for more staffing shortages at hospitals

  • One in eight nurses hasn't gotten a COVID-19 vaccine or doesn't plan to get one, a survey found.

  • Some 25% of the nurses surveyed were wary of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines available.

  • Amid healthcare-worker shortages in hospitals, vaccine mandates are another complicating factor.

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As coronavirus hospitalizations surge again because of the Delta variant, America's hospitals are dealing with another obstacle: One in eight nurses hasn't gotten a COVID-19 vaccine or doesn't plan to get one, a new survey found, potentially squeezing the already low supply of health workers.

The American Nurses Association surveyed nearly 5,000 nurses across the US in order to learn more about the questions and concerns they had about the vaccine. Twenty-five percent of the nurses surveyed said they didn't trust or were unsure that the coronavirus vaccines available were safe and effective. Out of those who didn't intend to get vaccinated, 84% said there was not enough information about the long-term effects of the vaccine.

Health experts have repeatedly said that vaccines were doing a good job of keeping people alive, out of the hospital, and healthy, and that any negative side effects would be evident within a couple months after administration.

Most of the nurses surveyed were hospital workers in medium to large hospitals with 100 to over 1,000 beds, and 71% provided direct care to patients at the facilities.

Hospitals across the country are facing severe nursing shortages, with healthcare workers in high demand. Many have also left the field, citing problems such as burnout. But with the Delta variant on the rise and an increase in vaccine mandates for jobs, hospitals are grappling with whether to require staff to get inoculated against the disease or risk alienating workers.

In a press release, the ANA said it supported mandates for COVID-19 vaccinations for nurses. It said healthcare workers have "ethical obligations to model the same prevention measures as their patients." Fifty-nine percent of the nurses surveyed supported vaccine mandates.

"As the largest group of health care professionals, nurses are critical to all facets of COVID-19 response efforts and must strive to remain physically and psychologically safe to function optimally to care for themselves, their patients and their communities," Dr. Ernest J. Grant, the ANA's president, said in the statement. "Nurses must get vaccinated."

The survey created by the ANA is part of a larger project called COVID Vaccine Facts for Nurses created with other healthcare organizations, including Johnson & Johnson, to provide nurses with reliable vaccine information.

Healthcare workers in the US were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in December, months before many Americans started receiving shots in their arms. As of the time of reporting, 52.3% of Americans were fully vaccinated, while 61.6% had received at least one dose, the CDC said.

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