Jacksonville hospitals encourage more staff members to get the vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hospitals across Jacksonville are seeing the number of COVID-19 patients in their halls multiplying by the day. But not all of those working in those halls are vaccinated.

UF health says its staff vaccination rates are on par with the national average for healthcare workers- and that number is rising.

Infection Preventionist Chad Nielsen says he believes more people are getting it now as the Delta variant spreads throughout the city.

“I think our staff are seeing the surge and they are concerned they’re going to get the delta variant.”

One nurse I spoke to said she knows it’s a problem.

“We do have colleagues here who are not vaccinated. But, I am vaccinated. My whole family is actually vaccinated,” nurse Caitlin Thompson says.

Action News Jax asked hospital leaders… if their own staff has not gotten it, why should the public?  They say it’s not the physicians who are hesitating.

“I think it’s a lot of care staff that are non-physicians that we have challenges getting vaccinations into.”

They add many staff members are prone to the same online misinformation the general public sees.

“We have to remind people that our staff members are the same consumers of media as the general public.”

Action News Jax reached out to several area hospitals asking for their staff vaccination numbers. UF Health sits at 52%, Baptist sits at 53% but says numbers could be higher if their employees were vaccinated off-site. Mayo, St. Vincents, and memorial all told me while they do not have specific numbers,  they have all encouraged staff to get the vaccine. I did not get a response from Flagler.

Caitlin Thompson says she believes getting the vaccine is the right thing to do.

“I felt as a nurse it was my duty to get vaccinated and show my experience with it.”