Less than 50% of UF Health employees have received COVID-19 vaccine

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Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 9:42 AM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Through collaboration with the state Department of Health in Alachua County, UF Health Shands has helped vaccinate around 70% of those 65 and older in the community using local health department doses.

When it comes to vaccinating the nearly 11,000 hospital employees, around 5,000 have received the vaccine, according to hospital officials.

As the hospital receives shipments of doses from the state, they are periodically offered to employees. Frontline workers were the first to be eligible, now all employees can get a shot.

Healthcare workers, like Nurse Manager Grace Mayne, said they’ve heard of employees having reservations when it comes to getting the vaccine.

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“The speed at which the vaccine was developed is probably one of the barriers,” said Mayne. “I think a lot of the staff probably want to see what the side effects are, but having seen what the disease does to people, I will take my chances because I don’t ever wanna be in any of these beds. The suffering is just too much.”

Mayne said she didn’t think twice about getting her vaccine.

“I made sure I was one of the first ones to take it so I can be a role model in the community because it is important. It’s not going to cure the disease, but at least it helps reduce some of the complications and the severity of the disease.”

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Dr. Michael Lauzardo, Health screen, Test and Protect Director, said he was hesitant when he first heard of the vaccine coming out, but after researching and seeing first-hand what the patients in the COVID unit go through, he jumped at his first opportunity to receive the shot.

“It became very clear, very quickly that this was important for all of us to counter those narratives that are out there and really share an amazing story in terms of these vaccines,” said Dr. Lauzardo.

He said the demand for UF Health employees to get the vaccine is still high. He predicts around 80% to 90% of employees will eventually get their shot.

“There’s almost like this second wave where people said ‘no, not yet. I wanna see what happens to you.’ Now let’s just be honest, humans are humans, but good we’re finding that there’s a huge demand for vaccines and so that number is gonna be much higher here very soon,” Dr. Lauzardo said.

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Dr. Lauzardo and others, like Chief of Hospital Medicine Dr. Nila Radhakrishnan, have teamed up to open access and promote vaccine information through community outreach projects.

“In addition to taking the vaccine, we’re actually doing a series of town hall meetings to talk about the science and to talk about the importance to not cure or prevent the disease, but to mitigate it,” said Dr. Radhakrishnan.

Dr. Lauzardo said hundreds of employees are scheduled to receive their first doses of the vaccine in the near future.

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