TYLER, Texas — Even among those who work at our hospitals, vaccine hesitancy is persistent.
Front-line healthcare workers were the first people in Texas allowed to get vaccinated, but at UT Health and CHRISTUS Health, roughly 60% of staff have chosen not to.
However, the percentage rises significantly when we only look at physicians. At UT Health 86% of physicians are vaccinated and nearly 75% are at CHRISTUS.
"Our other staff members are hovering in the low 30% range," Division Chief Medical Officer for UT Health East Texas Dr. Tom Cummins said.
Dr. Miguel Castellanos, a Cardiologist at Palestine Regional Medical is surprised by the number of physicians that remain unvaccinated at other hospitals compared to where he works.
"We have a very small medical staff," Dr. Castellanos said. "I actually don't know any doctors that have not been vaccinated, except the ones that have had COVID recently."
Castellanos says around 50% of other staff where he works are have not gotten the vaccine.
Dr. Cummins said he's also been surprised by the lack of staff enthusiasm. Despite this, he still encourages staff to come forward and says he tries to dispel the myths about the vaccine.
"Sometimes it's the concerns about fertility, concerns about DNA, etc.," Cummins said. "None of which are true and none of which have been shown to occur."
While we've been provided numbers that show how many physicians are vaccinated, we don't know the breakdown in other departments such as nurses to those who work in other areas of the hospital.
In a statement, Christus Trinity Mother Francis' Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Anderson said:
"Through our internal efforts, we have been able to fully vaccinate almost 40% of our teams at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System and CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic facilities in Tyler against COVID-19, including almost three-quarters of our physicians and advanced practice providers. While we continue to encourage our Associates, providers, and the entire East Texas community to get their COVID-19 vaccination, we understand that vaccination is a continuous process that requires ongoing education and support. In addition to our vaccination programs across the region, CHRISTUS Health has taken numerous infection prevention steps to ensure the safety of our patients, Associates, and physicians including:
- Rigorous cleaning and disinfection procedures
- Limiting visitors
- Screening process in place for everyone who comes through our doors
- Isolating COVID-19 patients to dedicated areas of the facility
- Daily screening for all Associates
- Requiring everyone on our campuses to wear masks
- Using telemedicine to treat active COVID-19 patients, so their caregivers and support staff limit the number of times they enter their rooms"