“We Want to Protect Others:” Workers Embrace COVID-19 Vaccine at One of the Largest U.S. Health Systems

80% of CommonSpirit Health Employees Are or Plan to Be Vaccinated

CHICAGO – Jan. 26, 2021 – As COVID-19 vaccinations expand beyond essential workers, a recent report* from CommonSpirit Health shows the majority of its 150,000 health care workers, 80%, have been vaccinated, are scheduled to be vaccinated, or say that they are “very likely” to get vaccinated. This is in stark contrast to pervasive stories about hospital employees opting out of vaccinations or expressing vaccine hesitance.

More than 4,100 CommonSpirit employees, a representative portion of the CommonSpirit workforce, responded to the survey. CommonSpirit is comprised of 139 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites in 21 states from coast to coast. CommonSpirit has benefited from a coordinated system-wide approach to its vaccine rollout that provides many consistencies in united messages and delivery mechanisms, despite the variables of state-by-state distribution.

“As one of America’s largest health systems, we hope that the positive action of our employees is a bellwether for the entire health care industry,” said CommonSpirit Health Chief Nursing Officer Kathleen Sanford, DBA, RN. “It’s important to understand, it takes time to build this vaccine confidence, and we see this as an extremely positive upward trend.”

CommonSpirit attributes much of its success to employees’ connection to the CommonSpirit mission. “Our employees have long told us they join our system and stay with us because of our mission to help others,” said Sanford. “The altruism of our employees clearly came through in their top reasons for choosing to get vaccinated.”

The top two reasons that employees choose to get vaccinated were focused on helping others – “desire to protect my family” (97%) and “reduce the chance of me infecting others” (97%). These were followed by “reduce chances of me getting infected” (93%) and “if enough people can get vaccinated, we can get back to normal” (93%). Respondents also selected “because I work in health care, I need to be a role model” (79%).

Hispanic and Black Health Care Workers Seek to Inspire Others to Get Vaccinated

CommonSpirit employees are role modeling for their respective communities by getting vaccinated themselves – 69% of Black respondents and 77% of Hispanic respondents have either been vaccinated, are scheduled to be vaccinated, or say that they are “very likely” to get vaccinated. This is higher than recent studies from the Pew Research Center reporting that 42% of Black and 63% of Hispanic U.S. adults said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccine hesitancy is a real issue in the communities we serve – especially in communities of color – and we have to overcome a long-standing history of mistrust in the medical system,” said CommonSpirit System Vice President, Population Health, Innovation and Policy Alisahah Cole, MD. “With care sites in hundreds of communities across the country, we have an opportunity and responsibility to build trust and our employees can play a powerful role in encouraging others to get the COVID-19 vaccine, especially in vulnerable populations.”

CommonSpirit has helped encourage employees to get vaccinated through an education and awareness program focused on debunking COVID-19 vaccine myths through employee town halls and social media posts featuring clinicians. Many facilities have implemented “selfie stations” for employees to share a picture of themselves after getting vaccinated or to wear a sticker or button, “I got vaccinated – Ask me about it.”

“We will continue to work to build trust for the COVID-19 vaccine among our employees and in the communities that we serve,” said Sanford. “We feel the commitment of our health care professionals to vaccination and safety helps ensure the vaccination rollout across America will be a success.”

About CommonSpirit Health 
CommonSpirit Health is a nonprofit, Catholic health system dedicated to advancing health for all people. It was created in February 2019 through the combination of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. With a team of approximately 150,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, CommonSpirit Health operates 139 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites across 21 states. In FY 2020, CommonSpirit had revenues of nearly $29.6 billion and provided $4.6 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed government programs. Learn more at www.commonspirit.org.

*The CommonSpirit Health 2021 COVID-19 Pulse study was conducted by Press Ganey Associates via an online survey Jan. 11 and 12, 2021 to 20,000 randomly selected CommonSpirit Health employees across 21 states, representing 21% of employees sampled.