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Whether Or Not Employees Get Vaccinated Could Come Down To Trust, Researcher Says

Vanessa Arroyo, a Tampa General Hospital front-line nurse, gets her Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine on Monday Dec.14.
Vanessa Arroyo, a Tampa General Hospital front-line nurse, gets her Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine on Monday Dec.14.

Authors of a guide that aims to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Certified Nursing Assistants, say trust, not just in the vaccines, but in who is asking or requiring employees to get it is important.

A new guide aims to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Certified Nursing Assistants- or CNAs.

One of the co-authors is Ann Christiano, director of the Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida College of Journalism.

She spoke with Health News Florida's Matthew Peddie about some core findings they discovered concerning why some of these front-line health care workers were hesitant to get the vaccination.

What were some of you main takeaways from the research?

As we started to explore the research and really listen to certified nursing assistants who are both intending to get the vaccine and not intending to get the vaccine, one of the things that we saw is that those who were not intending to get vaccinated did not trust their employers. In fact, not one cited their employer as a trusted source of information. And so one of the things that we recognized very early in this project was that encouraging people to make the choice to get vaccinated is fundamentally about trust, not just trust in the vaccines, but trust in those who are asking us to get it or requiring now increasingly, us to get it.

That seems like a pretty high bar to clear though, if you don't trust your employer. I mean, that seems like it'd be a lot of work. That's more than just a simple sit down conversation with somebody about vaccinations, right seems like there's a much deeper problem here.

For sure. And I think a lot of employers are recognizing that they really need to invest in creating space for those conversations where they can build trust, creating office hours with medical experts, so that people can have private conversations to talk about their concerns, showing respect and concern and compassion for people's choices and recognizing them for the lived experience and expertise that they have. That's not necessarily part of the culture of every work environment. So yeah, some work environments are finding that they have to kind of revisit their organizational culture. We don't have time, though, to completely rebuild organizational culture, then that means that we have to go to the people they do trust those peers, those colleagues, those people who may not necessarily have a fancy title, or a lot of obvious power within the organization, but people who are deeply trusted and connected.

And so there are, I think, eight steps to the guide, beginning with establishing trust and ending with celebrating success as a community, but also addressing fear at the individual level, which I think is an interesting concept.

Yeah, and I think it really starts with number one, making sure that people have very easy access to the vaccine. That they are getting, that paid time off that they're getting vouchers for transportation or childcare. But the issue isn't always access. The issue can also be that people bring really varied fears and concerns to their choices about vaccination.

This template you've developed, or a guide for CNAs, can it be applied to other groups. How do you see it kind of being applied elsewhere?

The basic framework of listen, first really listened to what people's concerns are, what their barriers are. A0ffirm, like, I'm afraid of the long term effects, or I'm afraid that it'll harm my opportunities to get pregnant. Affirming, like, gosh, yeah, that that is scary. I can understand why you would be worried about that. And then really coming back to them with your own personal experience, because our behaviors are very deeply informed and influenced by our perceptions of what people like us are doing. So that person that we see as part of our in group, that person that we see as part of our inner trusted circle, is going to be the one that sort of has the free pass to influencing our choices. So if I talk to my dad about it, and explain to him why it is so important to me and his granddaughters that he get vaccinated, that's going to have a lot more impact than that guy he's playing golf with who's telling him about chips being injected to his arms.

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.