Kaiser Family Foundation-Washington Post Survey of Frontline Healthcare Workers Finds Nearly Half Remain Unvaccinated

35th Partnership Project Examines Frontline Workers’ Experiences and Views Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

As of early March, just over half (52%) of frontline healthcare workers say they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving 48% who have not, a new KFF/The Washington Post national survey of healthcare workers finds.

Most who work in hospitals (66%) and outpatient clinics (64%) say they have received a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to half who work in doctors’ offices (52%) or in nursing homes or assisted care facilities (50%), and a quarter (26%) of home healthcare workers. Similarly, seven in ten (68%) of those responsible for patient diagnosis and treatment like a doctor or a nurse report receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to about four in ten of those who perform administrative duties (44%) or who assist with patient care such as bathing, eating, cleaning, exercising, and housekeeping (37%).

The findings related to vaccination intentions come from a new KFF/Post partnership survey examining the experiences and attitudes of frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and appear in The Washington Post and in a KFF report. Additional findings focused on the emotional, physical and economic toll that the pandemic has taken on frontline healthcare workers will appear in future stories and reports.

Among the initial findings:

  • The unvaccinated group of frontline healthcare workers includes some who either have their vaccination scheduled (3%) or plan to get vaccinated but haven’t scheduled it yet (15%). It also includes 3 in 10 who have either not decided whether they will get vaccinated (12%) or say they do not plan on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine (18%).
  • A large majority of unvaccinated healthcare workers who either have not decided if they will get vaccinated, or say they do not plan to get vaccinated, say that worries about potential side effects (82%) and the newness of the vaccine (81%) are major factors in their decision making. These are the top concerns across the different demographic groups of unvaccinated healthcare workers including Black healthcare workers, Hispanic healthcare workers, and White healthcare workers.
  • Among frontline health workers, half of Black workers, 45% of workers without a college degree, and four in ten Republican and Republican-leaning workers say they are not confident the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been properly tested for safety and effectiveness. About 1 in 5 of each of these groups also say they will definitely not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Access to a COVID-19 vaccine from an employer is a key aspect of vaccination rates among frontline healthcare workers. 6 in 10 health care workers who are not self-employed say they were either offered or received a COVID-19 vaccine from their employer (including 84% of vaccinated healthcare workers). Reflecting the overall vaccination rates among frontline healthcare workers, the share of workers who were offered a COVID-19 vaccine from their employer was much lower among those working in patients’ homes (34%).

The project, the 35th KFF/The Washington Post partnership survey, includes interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,327 frontline healthcare workers (direct contact with patients and their bodily fluids), representing hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and assisted care facilities, and those working in home health care. The sample includes workers who work in many, and multiple, different aspects of patient care including patient diagnosis and treatment, administrative duties, and/or assisting with patient care such as bathing, eating, cleaning, exercising, and housekeeping. The survey also included a comparison survey allowing researchers to compare the group of frontline healthcare workers to the general population, that included 971 U.S. adults not working as frontline healthcare workers. The margin of sampling error for the group of frontline healthcare workers is 3 percentage points, national comparison sample is 4 percentage points. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

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