Why Some Healthcare Workers Would Rather Lose Their Jobs Than Get Vaccinated

Carole Funk gets a flu shot most years and is up-to-date on all her other vaccines. She refuses to get the Covid-19 shot.

A nurse practitioner for nearly 10 years, she believes Covid-19 can kill—she knows people who have died. Still, she lost her job running an urgent-care clinic in Strasburg, Va., in September due to her refusal to vaccinate, and remains unmoved. “Getting fired is not enough for me to overcome my fear that the side effects or adverse events of these vaccines are grossly underreported,” Ms. Funk said.

Ms. Funk, 50 years old, is among more than 200 workers at Virginia and West Virginia-based Valley Health System who resigned or were fired over requirements that the company’s 6,200 employees be vaccinated. They belong to a group of people who have made up their minds that Covid-19 vaccines could harm their health or infringe on their liberties.

There’s no evidence of the kind of underreporting Ms. Funk cited, doctors and public-health experts say.

The fact that these holdouts are healthcare workers makes them one of the most confounding challenges for the vaccination drive. Around one-third of the eligible population in the U.S. remains unvaccinated against Covid-19. Some of the vaccine holdouts, health officials believe, will ultimately be persuaded to get the shot—the so-called movable middle. Others might never be persuaded. Their resistance and potential influence threaten public-health efforts to defeat the virus, say epidemiologists and other health experts.

Carole Funk, at home in Virginia, is a nurse practitioner who lost her job running an urgent-care clinic because she refuses to be vaccinated.

“We want to get the virus to a point where we can manage it,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

He estimates that 85% of the population will need to be vaccinated before that is the case, and even the relatively small percentage of people who are opposed to getting the vaccine could be a barrier to that, considering it isn’t known when children under the age of 5 will be eligible. Shots for those between 5 and 11 years old could be approved within the month.

Most healthcare workers are required by employers to get immunizations for other infectious diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. Why are some resisting the Covid-19 vaccine?

The Valley Health urgent-care clinic where Ms.

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