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Vaccinating health care workers drastically reduces COVID-19 infections and quarantine time, study finds

Researchers say the vaccinations have been vital to protecting these important workers

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Photo (c) Aleksandr Zubkov - Getty Images
Working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for the last year has taken a physical and mental toll on health care workers, who have remained at the biggest risk of contracting the virus. 

Now, a new study conducted by researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center has found that vaccinating health care workers early to protect against COVID-19 has led to several benefits. The team says that getting these early vaccinations done has helped reduce infections in this critical sector of the U.S. workforce.

“Real-world experience with SARS-CoV-2 vaccination at UT Southwestern demonstrated a marked reduction in the incidence of infections among our employees, preserving the workforce when we needed it most,” said researcher Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky. 

Keeping health care workers safe

The researchers were able to evaluate the benefits of vaccinating health care workers by analyzing outcomes for 23,000 employees working at UT Southwestern. Thirty percent of employees were fully vaccinated within the first month that treatment was available, and nearly 60 percent had at least gotten the first dose. 

The team found that positive cases of COVID-19 were lower after employees were either fully or partially vaccinated, and the number of employees required to quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure also dropped by more than 90 percent. The infection rate remained just under three percent among unvaccinated employees, but it was around 0.05 percent among vaccinated employees. 

“Our ability to quickly vaccinate a majority of our workforce in the midst of what became the largest surge to date in the region made a critical difference in ensuring we were able to continue providing top-flight care while health systems were strained,” said researcher Dr. John Warner. 

Educating consumers

Though employees at UT Southwestern are all eligible for the vaccine, and nearly 80 percent are now fully vaccinated, some skepticism still remains about the safety and efficacy of these treatments. The researchers plan to utilize several different resources to educate consumers about vaccines in hopes of eliminating some of that fear or hesitancy.

“In light of this real-world experience clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of immunization, further understanding of the reticence of some individuals to take advantage of vaccination bears even greater importance,” said researcher Dr. William Daniel. 

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