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AP reporting reveals some front-line health care workers balking at COVID vaccine

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AP investigative reporter Bernard Condon and national reporter Matt Sedensky, both based in New York, and Seattle-based health and science reporter Carla K. Johnson assembled the most detailed national look yet at one of the most vexing snags in the coronavirus vaccine rollout: the fact that surprising numbers of health care workers — who have seen firsthand the misery inflicted by COVID-19 — are refusing the shots.

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Stormy Tatom, an intesive care unit nurse in Beaumont, Texas, is shown in an undated photo after 12 hours in an N95 mask caring for COVID-19 patients. Tatom said she decided against getting vaccinated for now “because of the unknown long-term side effects.” – Stormy Tatom via AP

The team’s deep reporting, with contributions from colleagues across the country, found the paradox occurring in nursing homes and to a lesser degree hospitals, with some individual facilities seeing a refusal rate as high as 80%. The resistance has led some states to threaten to bypass such workers from their priority place in the vaccine line unless more get on board.

Their story included voices from some health workers expressing what experts say are unfounded fears of side effects from vaccines that were developed at record speed. And they quoted frustrated facility administrators who were offering everything from free breakfasts at Waffle House to a car raffle to get employees to roll up their sleeves.

The piece resonated in a big way with readers. In an extremely busy news week when pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol,this vaccine story was the third-most clicked on the AP News app for the week,with more than 1 million pageviews. And it ranked as one of the highest for the week in terms of reader engagement.

For bringing to light an important part of the stumbling early rollout of the much-anticipated vaccine,Condon, Sedensky and Johnson win this week’s Best of the States award.

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