Coronavirus vaccine nears, but many healthcare workers unsure about it

49% of Jackson employees surveyed say they would take it in first round

Just under half of Jackson Health System employees surveyed said they want to take a coronavirus vaccine as part of the first round when it's approved.

MIAMI – As the country watches and waits to see what happens next with the first of several COVID-19 vaccines — those at the top of the priority list to get a vaccine are split on whether they want it.

Last week, a survey asking Jackson Health System employees if they would receive the vaccine once available in the first round revealed that just under half (49% percent) said they would. About 35% said not yet, but they would consider taking it in the future. Almost 15% said they were not interested at all.

This as officials in Washington urge people the risks of getting the virus outweigh any potential risks of a vaccine.

“Our advice to everyone is to take the vaccine, just based on risk,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald Pace, director of the Defense Health Agency.

That advice is seemingly resonating with some of the nursing homes we visited in Hialeah — with long-term care facility residents the other group at the front of the line for the vaccine.

Roy Oro says the pandemic has been especially hard on residents at his facility, Garden Walk Assisted Living. Many are already dealing with mental health issues, he says.

“Feedback we are getting from our residents has been overwhelmingly positive on the vaccine,” Oro said. “They’ve been waiting for it. ... Can you imagine being locked up for the last 7 months of your life and not really understanding what’s going on?”

He says overwhelmingly residents tell him they want the vaccine — and that for the most part, the staff seems open to it as well.

“The main thing is they’re excited to move back out and go on with their lives,” Oro said.

A U.S. government advisory panel on Thursday endorsed Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, a major step, as the Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow the recommendation issued by its expert advisers.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida has been allocated 179,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in its first shipment once the shot is approved for emergency use by the FDA.