Vaccine hesitancy among Veterans Affairs Health Care System employees

Elizabeth Hulen, Annabelle L. Rynerson, Steven K. Dobscha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Vaccine hesitancy undermines the control of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been observed in health care workers. As part of a quality improvement effort, we aimed to describe reasons for vaccine acceptance and hesitancy among employees in the Veteran Affairs Portland Health Care System (VAPORHCS). We administered an open-ended and web-based survey to all VAPORHCS employees in July 2021. Data were analyzed using a rapid usability framework, whereby qualitative data were synthesized into thematic categories to inform decision making. Among the 1157 employees who completed the survey, 88% reported that they had received the vaccine and 12% reported that they did not receive the vaccine. Over half (54%) of vaccinated respondents reported having initial hesitancy to the COVID-19 vaccine but overcame their hesitancy by deciding that the vaccine's benefits outweighed its risks. Reasons for COVID-19 vaccine acceptance were: 1) individual and community health; 2) protect vulnerable and unvaccinated family members; 3) promote patient and workplace safety; 4) scientific evidence. Reasons for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among unvaccinated employees were: 1) concerns with safety and risk profile of vaccine; 2) mistrust in vaccine development; 3) personal choice; 4) openness to future vaccination. These results provide information for tailored vaccine messaging efforts as well as emphasizes the need for trust-building between employees and health care organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101702
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Healthcare workers
  • Mistrust
  • Trust
  • Vaccine acceptance
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • Vaccine messaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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