Pullman Hospital Devises Strategy To Address COVID Vaccine Hesitancy Among Employees

outside shot of Pullman Regional Hospital
Nearly 3/4 of Pullman Regional Hospital employees have received COVID vaccination shots. Courtesy of PRH

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Many people are eager to get their COVID vaccine shots. Others are in no hurry. Still others say there’s no way they’ll be vaccinated.

Leaders at Pullman’s hospital say they’ve had some success in convincing some of their vaccine hesitant employees to take the needle.

Jeannie Eylar says Pullman Regional Hospital began vaccinating its more than 500 employees around Christmas. Eylar is the hospital’s chief nursing officer. By mid-January, she says about 50% had received their shots. She and her colleagues set a goal of inoculating 75% by March 1.

“I will be really honest with you. I was really doubtful that we would even get close to that,” Eylar said.

That’s because some people weren’t eager to get the vaccine . Eylar says some wanted to see how their inoculated colleagues would react. She says the hospital created a team to consider ideas to help people overcome that hesitancy.

“We have an email group of all of the employees. People started putting out their ‘why’, why they got vaccinated. We heard that from physicians. Some of the most powerful messages were from people who shared that they weren’t going to get vaccinated, but what were the things that changed their minds,” she said.

She says about 50 people shared their stories.

“I heard several of our staff members who said, ‘It was so-and-so’s story that made me get vaccinated.’ So that really was quite effective,” Eylar said.

Also effective, first-hand experience.

“When nurses, physical therapists, direct care givers saw the pain and suffering of patients who were here in the hospital, couldn’t see their patients or they couldn’t see their family members and the impact that that had on them and their choice to get vaccinated and help avoid that for everybody else, those were really impactful,” she said.

One other strategy: never discount the power of vaccine-related swag.

“Of course we have stickers that say when you get your vaccine, you can wear the sticker that says, ‘I’ve been vaccinated.’ But we got these permanent pins for people, our employees, who got vaccinated. We got those two weeks ago. That has had an impact on a few people. We have had patients who have come into OB and want to make sure that the staff that are caring for them are vaccinated. We’ve had comments from our patients that they like seeing that pin,” she said.

As of last week, Eylar says about 73% of Pullman Regional’s employees had been vaccinated. 

Copyright 2021 Spokane Public Radio. To see more, visit spokanepublicradio.org

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