At War With Ourselves

Get vaccinated and end this war against ourselves

We struggle every day with the COVID pandemic, and at the same time, some of us reject our greatest tool against it, vaccination. This article is my opinion about the oxymoron of nurses against COVID vaccine mandates.

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  • Specializes in Patient Safety Advocate; HAI Prevention.
Get vaccinated and end this war against ourselves

I’ve never seen anything like it.  As a 72-year old woman and an RN for over 50 years, our current nursing climate has shocked and stunned me.  I have lost faith in too many regular every day human beings.  My strengths as a nurse and just as a woman have always centered around my ability to accept, love and care for other people.  I’ve never had much trouble getting along with others, even those who I may disagree with.  But lately, just being able to converse with some people is a struggle.

We all have strong feelings about the subject of COVID.  Most families have been impacted with infections.  Mine has.  My brother was hospitalized but he got excellent medical and nursing care and he survived.  He had long COVID symptoms, but eventually he got better, got vaccinated and has moved on with his life.  He was one of the lucky ones.  His son’s entire extended in-law family got infected after a 2020 Thanksgiving gathering.  A guest brought a sick child to the event…everyone got infected.  All survived. What were they thinking having a family gathering of that size during this pandemic?

So, how do we move through this damnable pandemic, when it shows no indication of going away.  We read every day about new cases, how many are hospitalized, how many are in ICU and/or intubated.  Then that data is broken down into how many were vaccinated and how many were not. The numbers speak very clearly to me, about how important vaccination is.  I am not an expert on data analysis, or epidemiology, or COVID for that matter.  But, I am a concerned old retired nurse.  I am also exhausted by COVID, and I have not even been infected.

I remember standing in line when I was just a scared little girl, to get my shots in school.  There was no discussion.  Our parents signed the permits and we got the shots.  Everyone was grateful for the vaccinations, particularly for the polio vaccine.  Kids in my small Maine town had been infected and crippled by polio.  I don’t remember deaths, but certainly there were some.  We were pretty young so we were most likely protected from such sad news.

My parents and my teachers did not question the vaccines.  They just thanked God that we had them, and they made sure we kids got them.  Because of solid science and our wise parents and teachers, Polio does not exist in the US anymore.  Also, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps and other infectious diseases were extremely rare, nearly non-existent…. until the anti vax movement became a thing.  I am not going to give that movement oxygen in my writing.   I’ll just give a single example.

When I still worked as an RN in a walk in care, a woman came to my triage desk.  She was very scared, because her child had whooping cough.  He was very ill,  was admitted for intensive care, and he survived.   She had a lot more kids at home….like 10 or so, and she was anti vax.  Her fright of nearly losing her child changed her mind, and she got all of her children fully vaccinated.  Why did it take such a scare to move her, to protect her children?

The reality of COVID is like black and white to me.  It is a deadly infection, and it spreads more easily than any other infection I have seen in my lifetime.  Old folks (like me), and immunocompromised people of any age are at highest risk of death from COVID.  We are also less likely to accomplish a great immune response even if fully vaccinated.  That is the reason that General Colin Powell died this week.  His Multiple Myeloma and his age compromised his ability to launch a strong immunity to COVID, even though he was fully vaccinated.

Why are we still having this discussion ... to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?  Astoundingly, fellow RNs are willing to lose their jobs to make a statement against vaccine mandates. The data and science speak for themselves. I am losing respect for nurses who are anti vax.

I have always been open to reasonable, science-based discussions about medical treatments and other topics, but this one I am firm on.  I believe with all my heart, that vaccinations are our single most powerful tool to get us out of this pandemic.

Get vaccinated. End this war against ourselves.

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References

High-profile and fully vaccinated but immunocompromised: Colin Powell’s death wrongly seized upon to undermine utility of coronavirus vaccines

Kathy Day RN, Graduate of St Elizabeths Hospital School of Nursing, 1970. Experienced in ER, employee health and other outpatient settings. Became a Volunteer Patient Safety Advocate after her father's death because of Hospital Acquired MRSA in 2009. Member of the Patient Safety Action Network. http://mcclearymrsaprevention.com/

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GrumpyRN, NP

1,234 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 41 years experience.

??????

I'm (very slightly) younger than you but remember polio. My mother told me just last week about queuing in our city for the polio vaccine with us. I have been vaccinated against smallpox - whatever happened to smallpox? Oh yes, vaccinations.

Being at school and getting vaccinations - don't know if my parents were told beforehand, it just happened. 1960's were great for public health.

Not long before I retired I had a patient with a laceration while in the garden. Asked his mother "Vaccinations up to date?" Her reply was, "No, I don't believe in them." Told her her child was at risk of tetanus and suddenly she was a believer. Had to attend her own family doctor to get covered because I could not do it.

Andrew Wakefield did a lot of damage and was rightly struck off.

 

2 hours ago, KathyDay said:

I have always been open to reasonable, science-based discussions about medical treatments and other topics, but this one I am firm on.  I believe with all my heart, that vaccinations are our single most powerful tool to get us out of this pandemic.

Get vaccinated. End this war against ourselves.

Sadly all us boomers can do is keep banging the public health drum and encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. As my granny used to say, "Mair power tae yer elbow."

Good luck to you and stay safe.

Jean Enderle

2 Posts

Specializes in Board certified FNP of 41 years in active practice. Has 48 years experience.

I couldn’t agree more with the writer. I am a nurse practitioner in active practice for over 41 years, over 46 in nursing.I currently work in geriatric psych, in the nursing homes... I too recall standing in m line with my little sister and parents, in our school gymnasium to receive our oral polio vaccine on a sugar cube. Certainly no controversy.... and , that was live virus! We were thankful.  I am so disheartened and deeply disappointed in the nurses who refuse the covid vaccine... to become a nurse is to embrace a moral and ethical responsibility to those you serve.... a choice and a serious decision in choosing nursing.... that responsibility to protect others... most every nurse I know had to be vaccinated by the standards of the day, to enter nursing school ... and with good reason... I recall that  I even had to get a typhoid vaccine and my doctor joked, asking where I was going to nursing school..... the answer was.. New York!    I know this... if one of my loved ones or I need to walk into an ER or go into a hospital or clinic for care, I do not want to even have to wonder whether those attending to my care are vaccinated..... yes, those who do not wish to be vaccinated have the right to make it their choice... and fully own the consequences of that choice, including seeking another profession where they do not put others at risk...... how many world renowned experts does it take those nurses to heed their advice? The advice is the same... get vaccinated. 

Kitiger, RN

1,786 Posts

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 44 years experience.
1 hour ago, Jean Enderle said:

I couldn’t agree more with the writer. I am a nurse practitioner in active practice for over 41 years, over 46 in nursing.I currently work in geriatric psych, in the nursing homes... I too recall standing in m line with my little sister and parents, in our school gymnasium to receive our oral polio vaccine on a sugar cube. Certainly no controversy.... and , that was live virus! We were thankful.  I am so disheartened and deeply disappointed in the nurses who refuse the covid vaccine... to become a nurse is to embrace a moral and ethical responsibility to those you serve.... a choice and a serious decision in choosing nursing.... that responsibility to protect others... most every nurse I know had to be vaccinated by the standards of the day, to enter nursing school ... and with good reason... I recall that  I even had to get a typhoid vaccine and my doctor joked, asking where I was going to nursing school..... the answer was.. New York!    I know this... if one of my loved ones or I need to walk into an ER or go into a hospital or clinic for care, I do not want to even have to wonder whether those attending to my care are vaccinated..... yes, those who do not wish to be vaccinated have the right to make it their choice... and fully own the consequences of that choice, including seeking another profession where they do not put others at risk...... how many world renowned experts does it take those nurses to heed their advice? The advice is the same... get vaccinated. 

I also had to get the Typhoid vaccine to enter nursing school. And I clearly remember walking to the local elementary school to get the polio vaccine in the sugar cube. Twice. 

I have the smallpox scar, too.

SmilingBluEyes

20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 26 years experience.

I had to get typhoid shots in the military, and a host of others. No problem with that here. I also vaguely remember being lined up in school as a kindergartner in Chicago. It was a drink if I recall.

Polio was an epidemic in the 50s and early 60s there, striking fear into the hearts of its residents. My uncle had spinal issues all his life d/t polio. He got it in the early 50s on a visit to Chicago.

He also died of a very rare form of spinal cancer, sadly, in his late 60s.

I am sure he would have loved to have been vaccinated rather than risk getting the disease and suffering as he did. Natural immunity be damned.

I have a smallpox scar from getting that shot in school, too.

kdkout, BSN, RN

159 Posts

Has 28 years experience.

I completely agree!! 
I’ve been working full time in nursing, in nearly every area, since 1995. 
What is going on with nursing schools these days?!? Is that the problem??

We used to be weeded out. Our critical thinking was tested. Now it’s “my body, my choice” and anti vax nonsense. It’s shameful. 

Specializes in LTC (LPN-RN). Has 14 years experience.

We need to remember vaccination does not mean no infection. WE have over 120 million vaccinated. Most both doses. At my facility all of our staff who've tested positive (6)have been vaccinated. None were seriously ill. 

Kitiger, RN

1,786 Posts

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 44 years experience.
24 minutes ago, katherine100 said:

We need to remember vaccination does not mean no infection. WE have over 120 million vaccinated. Most both doses. At my facility all of our staff who've tested positive (6)have been vaccinated. None were seriously ill. 

What percentage of unvaccinated staff do you have? 

Specializes in LTC (LPN-RN). Has 14 years experience.

0% It was mandated for all.

Specializes in Trauma/surgical/neuro critical care. Has 8 years experience.

Love this article. If there was a single good argument for not taking the vaccine I'd think different, but every excuse is based on misunderstandings, non-existent hypotheticals, fear, or lies. Nurses are supposed to be committed to the common good and care for our vulnerable. When someone chooses to end their career over a vaccine all it tells me is those values are no longer meaningful to them and maybe it was time they moved on anyway.

PMFB-RN, RN

5,343 Posts

Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Trauma Rapid Response. Has 16 years experience.

Everyone who isn't stupid has been vaccinated. 

    That just leaves the stupid and you can't fix stupid. 

   Obviously nobody should be forced to get vaccinated,  just as obviously those who choose not to be will need to be kept out of public spaces. 

nursel56

7,046 Posts

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 47 years experience.

 

On 10/30/2021 at 3:09 PM, SmilingBluEyes said:

I have a smallpox scar from getting that shot in school, too.

I gave a few smallpox vaccines in the late '70s.  I guess that really dates me....

Thank you for the thoughtful and well-written article, Kathy Day.

I agree with you.