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'You're either going to get COVID or you're going to get a vaccine': Doctors urge vaccination

Some healthcare providers, particularly those in long-term care facilities, are choosing to wait on getting vaccinated.

TAMPA, Fla. — After COVID-19 vaccines were approved last month, healthcare workers were some of the first in line to get their shots.

But now, some long term care facilities are finding that their staff is uninterested in getting vaccinated. At least, for now.

“I was personally vaccinating healthcare workers and I was surprised when I would ask a healthcare worker, you know, 'You can get the vaccine now.’ They would say, ‘No thank you. Not right now,'" explained Dr. Sumanta Chaudhuri Saini, the chief academic officer at KPC Health in Southern California.

Resistance to getting the vaccine is happening more in nursing homes and long term care facilities.

According to the Associated Press, three out of every 10 employees at PruittHealth, which has three long-term care facilities in Florida, are saying no to the vaccine.

But some doctors in our area say getting the vaccine was an easy choice

“By the end of the year, you're either going to get COVID or you're going to get a vaccine and I'd prefer to let you know, have destiny on my side and choose my solution here and I'm gonna choose the vaccine," said Dr. Pat Ricalde, a surgeon at the Florida Craniofacial Institute. 

Dr. John Sinnott, an infectious disease expert with USF Health and Tampa General Health, has already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

As a physician who has seen COVID-19 patients nearly every day since the pandemic hit Florida, he says he is relieved to finally have protection against the virus.

"Number one it gives you a sense of protection. Two, it gives you a chance to get closer to patients," Sinnott explained.

Hospitals are employing campaigns to help people better understand the research and safety around vaccines.

“We also have been giving information about the type of vaccine that it is, which is an mRNA vaccine. And kind of trying to educate as to why some of the greatest fears, you know namely people are worried that it is going to be incorporated into their own DNA and then somehow cause mutations and that sort of thing," Chaudhuri Saini said.  

"And we do have our infectious disease experts and other physians, and clinical folks helping to disseminate that information."

With cases on the rise, doctors are urging people to stay safe. By either wearing your mask and social distancing or getting the vaccine.

"Super simple. Doesn't matter what variant is out there. If you don't get infected, you don't have to worry about it," said Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist with USF Health.

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