COVID-19 vaccines and the quandary for caregivers

Some caregivers seem to be in a quandary when it comes to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Do they get the vaccine now or do they have serious misgivings about the vaccine and decide to opt out for personal reasons?

Widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine started in December of 2020. For the last three months, segments of the population at a higher risk of contracting the virus, or those who have a higher risk of serious complications from COVID, have been designated as the first recipients to become vaccinated. 

“Although many of our clients are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine because of their age or compromised state of health, their caregivers may decide they do not want to get a vaccine, ” said Pride PHC Vice-President Andy Cruz. “We cannot require our caregivers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but I it is incredibly important that all of our caregivers become vaccinated.” Caregivers who are not vaccinated may put their clients and the families of their clients at an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19. 

We want you to have the straight facts when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are four flawed reasons we have heard why some caregivers have decided not to get the vaccine:

#1 You are afraid the vaccine won’t keep you healthy

Caregivers may be saying “NO” publicly when they are asked if they are getting the vaccine. But, according to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, caregivers want to set the record straight, and that their reasons are being misinterpreted by the public. They say just because they are a healthcare worker, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a person too. “They have the right to say no to the vaccine,” said Cruz. “However, we strongly suggest they become inoculated to keep themselves and our clients as safe as possible.” Nursing home workers say there is a variety of reasons including potential side effects with other medications and how politics played into the seemingly rushed approval process. 

#2 You are having a difficult time getting the COVID-19 vaccine 

Even though caregivers in Texas are classified as a 1A priority group as a front-line health care worker, they Texas Tribune reports many caregivers say they are having a hard time getting access to a vaccine, because most of them are not affiliated with a state-approved vaccine provider such as a hospital or a nursing home. “Lack of access isn’t the only problem cited in the article,” said Cruz. “Many caregivers are hesitant to take the vaccine because they fear side effects.” The report also says there is great distrust in the level of research on the vaccines during the approval process. 

#3 Caregivers: you may feel undervalued

Caregivers perform a service at a level that not many in the workforce can handle. It is a tough job, testing emotions and patience. “A caregiver provides a lifeline to the elderly and the homebound,” said Cruz. “Our caregivers establish deep bonds with their clients. They aren’t just caregivers, they turn into friends with many of their clients.” 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, caregiver pay is not one of the higher wages among health care workers. “At Pride PHC we value our caregivers and we take any step we can to show them,” said Cruz. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here. That’s why we provide employee benefits such as a worker’s compensation alternative insurance, health insurance for qualified caregivers, and periodic bonuses, which have included hazard pay, at an extra $1.00 per hour for every hour worked since March 2020. These types of benefits are rare in our professional field for caregivers.”

#4 We don’t qualify to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

CNN reports that there are tens of thousands of middle-aged sons and daughters caring for older relatives with serious ailments, but that they are too young to qualify for a vaccine themselves. “In Texas, you can be hired as a caregiver for a parent or a relative,” said Cruz. “In fact, as long as you are not the spouse of someone needing care, you can be hired as a caregiver in our state and receive income for the care you provide.”

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine for caregivers has been slower than for front line health care workers. However, you are indeed eligible to receive the vaccine in Texas. We hope you make the decision to become inoculated to help slow the spread of this unrelenting disease. 

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