YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – With just a fraction of Ohioans being vaccinated against COVID-19 so far, union leaders representing 1,000 local nursing home workers say the state needs to do more than simply warn about the severity of the virus.
This week, Anthony Caldwell, executive vice president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU)/1199, issued a statement indicating many of their members believe the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were rushed to market and unproven, adding that there are “trust issues” about whether workers should receive them.
“I would say the media definitely played a role in having some skepticism,” Caldwell said. “The governor of the state needs to use the same amount of resources to educate people on the safety of these vaccines.”
Operators of local non-union nursing homes say they’ve seen some of those same concerns among their own workers.
“We’ve had about 98% of our residents that have elected to be vaccinated and have received the first dose. From our employees’ standpoint, we are at about 60%,” said Danielle Procopio, spokesperson for Shepherd of the Valley Nursing Homes.
Although administrators with Sheperd of the Valley expect more of their employees who are now recovering from COVID-19 to start receiving their shots later this month, they admit social media has hindered the process.
“It’s funny how many conversations I’ve had where people are like, well, I read XYZ on Facebook. Well, sure, but who shared that information?” Procopio said.
While Procopio says there are plenty of legitimate resources on vaccines, including the CDC’s own website, union leaders say they’re now trying to be more proactive with their members.
“We’re telling them that when the state comes around again, and there’s an opportunity to get that vaccine, that they should take that opportunity,” Caldwell said.
In the meantime, all of Sheperd of the Valley’s facilities will complete their first round of vaccinations this weekend.