Pfizer vaccine LGH

Bobbi Jo Hurst, manager of employee health & safety at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, left, administers Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to ICU nurse Nikkee Asashon at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Suburban Pavilion on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.

Want to know if your health care provider is vaccinated for COVID-19?

Good luck.

Of the more than 11 million doses administered in Pennsylvania, state health department officials don’t know how many are health care workers and none of the health systems in Lancaster County would say.

A recent University of Michigan study, however, offers a window into which hospital workers in Lancaster County are most likely to be vaccinated: physicians, nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants.

On Monday, LNP | LancasterOnline inquired with officials at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, UPMC Lititz and WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital about the percentage of COVID-19 vaccinated staff.

WellSpan declined to answer.

UPMC provided only a system-wide percentage: 70%. UPMC operates hospitals in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Ohio. Acceptance rates often differ, sometimes significantly, between hospitals.

Lancaster General’s rate hasn’t budged since CEO John J. Herman announced a mandatory vaccination policy last month: roughly 66%.

LNP | LancasterOnline also asked, of the unvaccinated, what percentage provide direct patient care.

None of the county’s health systems responded.

Abram Wagner, a University of Michigan epidemiology professor involved in the vaccination study, said health care systems should disclose the vaccination status of employees.

“If people are uncomfortable disclosing whether they’ve gotten a vaccine or not, then maybe they shouldn’t be working at a hospital,” Wagner said.

‘I think it’s a fair question’

COVID-19 infections have fallen since Pennsylvanians began rolling up their sleeves.

Pennsylvania saw 212 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, seven in Lancaster County, while the seven-day case average was 304.7 and 9.1, respectively. A year ago, Pennsylvania had 345 new infections with a seven-day case average of 443. In Lancaster County on June 16, 2020, there were 28 new infections and a seven-day average of 36 cases.

The vaccines have long been touted as the hope for the return to normal.

While the Pennsylvania Department of Health collects vaccination data from the state’s nursing homes, it does not track this for health care systems.

And no statewide appraisal exists. The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania has not yet conducted any surveys to gauge vaccine hesitation and acceptance.

The only information available on hospital vaccination rates is that which health systems voluntarily provide.

As health care workers are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 and come into contact with patients who are unable to be vaccinated — such as those with compromised or suppressed immune systems — their vaccination status can be critical for mitigating viral spread.

In December, Michelle Meyer, professor and associate director of Geisinger’s Research Ethics Center for Translational Bioethics & Health Care Policy, analyzed an administrative survey across multiple Geisinger campuses, finding vaccine hesitancy shrank as more health professionals were vaccinated.

“I think it’s a fair question,” Meyer said about publicizing health care vaccination rates. “Also because I suspect that most members of the public assume that health care providers are vaccinated.”

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