Hospitals have opt-out policy for health care workers hesitant about COVID-19 vaccine | KOB 4

Hospitals have opt-out policy for health care workers hesitant about COVID-19 vaccine

Steve Soliz
Updated: December 14, 2020 05:21 PM
Created: December 14, 2020 04:33 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Lovelace expects to receive its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. UNM Hospital and Presbyterian did not give KOB 4 an exact date the vaccine is expected to arrive at their hospitals.

The state's high-risk frontline health care workers are the first in line to receive the vaccine.

However, they are not required to take the vaccine. Dr. Jeff Salvon-Harman, chief patient safety officer at Presbyterian, said employees can opt out of receiving the vaccine.

"They will be treated the same as those who opt-in. We will not be discriminating against them in anyway," Salvon-Harman said. "All of us will continue wearing our full PPE and engaging in our COVID-safe practices, like universal masking within our facilities. It won't change things in that regard for them. They will hopefully also see from their colleagues and co-workers who do receive vaccinations, if they are opting out but not contraindicated, that overtime they may change their minds, seeing what the experience is like for others. That might overcome some hesitancy within the workforce."

UNM Hospital and Lovelace have the same opt-out policy.

If opting-out results in extra vaccine, they will be given to others in the health care industry who work with patients on a daily basis.

New Mexico is among one of four states participating in a pilot program with Pfizer for distributing the vaccine. 

Dr. Salvon-Harman said the relationship with Pfizer has been beneficial.

"Presbyterian did participate with Pfizer in an initial test of distribution to validate the use of shipping containers and the tracking devices that are built into it," he said. "It went very well. I don't know that the results were widely publicized but it was really a real-time exercise for the actual shipping from Pfizer to the receiving location in New Mexico. No significant hiccups. No glitches."

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