The Gunnison Valley Health Approach to Vaccine Hesitancy. While rural healthcare organizations have unique challenges in pandemic response, they also have some unique advantaged.
Chief among these is the small community that enables relatively easy individualized engagement with vaccine hesitant employees.
he infection prevention (IP) and human resources (HR) departments identified all non-vaccinated employees. With this list, the IP and HR team reached out individually to all non-vaccinated employees. These conversations were done in a supportive manner to ensure each employee had the opportunity to receive individualized attention in a manner that provided them with a safe place to have their questions answered or their concerns heard.
The fact that GVH was able to surpass 80% immunization was a testament to their strategies of enhancing convenience and engaging in tailored outreach to hesitant employees. the peer reviewed literature suggested that workers at a lower educational level and at long-term care facilities might be more of a challenge to vaccinate. Regarding those hesitant to vaccinate, it is notable that based on their pre-vaccination surveys, GVH was eventually able to convince fully one in four employees who were “probably not” or “definitely not” going to get vaccine to do so.
In contrast, at least one institution showed vaccine acceptance by summer of 2021 that was below initial surveys. For example, Yale’s initial surveys released December 2020 (see below) showed that 84% of employees affirmed vaccination intent (see graph at right), but by summer of 2021, the combined organization achieved 81% vaccination. GVH’s ability to surpass its initial survey results in regard to vaccination rates should be recognized as an achievement.
In regard to place of work, although it took an addition 6-8 weeks to accomplish, long-term care employee vaccination eventually reached the 70% mark. However, success is tempered by the realization that the long-term care health workforce vaccination continues to lag beyond the organization as a whole.
87% of vaccination group wanted it as quickly as possible and 84% had affirmed plans to receive vaccine.
Common concerns about the vaccination include the concern for long term consequences, side effects, and lack of trust.