COVID-19, Sardinia takes disciplinary measures against hundreds of unvaccinated health workers
More than 500 measures have been taken against health workers who are failing to comply with the compulsory vaccination requirement for their profession in Sardinia. In accordance with current sanctions, doctors, nurses and social workers who do not receive both doses will be suspended from duty without pay.
Some 500 doctors, nurses and other staff in Sardinian hospitals have been suspended from duty as they have not yet been vaccinated. The suspended workers are employees of the Sassari University Hospital, the Sardinian Health Protection Agency and the Brotzu Hospital in Cagliari. The members of the Professional Associations are suspended from their posts without pay with immediate effect until 31 December of the current year, and must report to the disciplinary commissions. The measures imposed will be immediately revoked as soon as the employees receive the full vaccination cycle.The suspensions for those who fail to comply with the rules do not only apply to health personnel in Sardinia, but also to those working in Veneto, Umbria, Liguria and Lombardy In Sardinia, as in the rest of Italy, the non-compliant health workers cite various motivations: from those who oppose vaccination to those who remain unvaccinated for health-related problems or other reasons. Many of these have presented documentation to justify their lack of vaccination, as required by the Prevention Departments, and in this regard special commissions are examining the health certificates presented for exemptions.
In this context, we should therefore reflect on the low compliance of many healthcare workers to anti-COVID-19 vaccination and on the phenomenon of Vaccine Hesitancy, which we have also widely seen in hospitals. Universal Covid-19 vaccination is, in fact, an extraordinary opportunity to assess the phenomenon in its various facets. Despite Public Health’s constant efforts and proactive commitment in the awareness, training, information and active supply of vaccinations, and despite the health, social, psychological and economic pressures that burden the health system and the population as a whole, and even despite the evidence of the effectiveness of vaccination (over 96% protection for very serious and fatal events and 7-fold reduction in hospitalisations (Istituto Superiore di Sanità data as of August 8, 2021), some colleagues refuse the only tool that has saved, saves and will continue to save millions of lives around the world: vaccination.
Indeed, the altered perception of health risk by some operators not only underlies the reckless actions and repercussions they have on themselves and their own health, but also has a significant impact on the general public’s decision-making; a discrepancy between real danger and perceived risk, in fact, can lead to inappropriate behaviour that does not comply with recommended public health measures. The lack of unity in behaviour and actions on the part of health personnel represents a negative reference model in relation to sensitive population cohorts, and may lead not only to a lower awareness of the importance of vaccination but also to a reduction in perceived risk.
To this must be added the fact that despite the various initiatives promoted at national and international level to raise awareness of the importance and indispensability of mass vaccination, the spread of distorted information in the media also negatively affects the correct behaviour that must be adopted to support the vaccination campaign in the fight against COVID-19.
At the moment the Sardinian health service is having to do without more than 500 health personnel suspended from duty, and in a situation as precarious as the one the Region is facing in these summer months in which contagions are gradually increasing every day, the shortage of personnel exacerbates the problem. However, this action is necessary in order to safeguard healthcare, patients and the community. We hope that these colleagues will reflect and do further research, drawing on authoritative sources of data and avoiding the fake news spread on social media. The measure of suspension is in fact temporary in nature, it leaves no stigma and we are ready to welcome them with open arms to immunise them. Although they represent a very small proportion of the regional health workforce, these professionals are essential to our health service.
This demonstrates how complex the phenomenon of Vaccine Hesitancy is, how it does not depend only on people's training or background, which is why even the world of health professionals is not immune to it, and how a continuous campaign of correct communication is necessary in order to influence its determinants of Complacency, Confidence and Convenience.
We urge all users to stay connected to our site so as not to miss the next updates, and in the hope that all our colleagues in the healthcare field will soon complete the vaccination cycle, we remind that should you need any information or clarification, the virtual consulting service on Vaccinarsinsardegna.org is constantly available in the "Contact Us" section which can be accessed through the link https://www.vaccinarsinsardegna.org/en/contact-us.