COVID: It's Time to be Outspoken

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Turning the tide on COVID with our voices.

It's Time To Speak Up for Safety

COVID: It's Time to be Outspoken

I Am Sick of this Virus

To say that I am sick of COVID-19 is an understatement. Thankfully I haven’t been physically sick from COVID-19 but the mental anguish has been significant. It’s been a year and a half of uncertainty, fear, isolation, anxiety, grief and frustration. I’m sure some of you are quite familiar with these feelings. 

Right now my overarching emotion is disappointment. I am disappointed that we are still living through this pandemic. I am disappointed that our country is divided on how to best handle the virus. I am also disappointed that so many people are rejecting facts and beneficence in favor of misinformation and self-interest. This is dangerous territory.

When did people start renouncing what is scientifically proven to be best for the whole in exchange for what “might” be best for them personally? How did upholding personal freedoms become more noble than ensuring the safety of the masses? 

Recently I read a quote that really stuck with me and seems wholly applicable to our current situation. 

The Cherokee elder Stan Rushworth said, “The difference between a Western settler mindset of ‘I have rights’ and an indigenous mindset of ‘I have an obligation’ is instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think I was born with an obligation to serve past, present and future generations, and the planet herself”.

These are powerful words that mirror the split happening over Coronavirus.

66% is a D. That's too Close to Failing.

I had assumed that the vast majority of people would be of the “obligation” mindset but my assumption is inaccurate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 66% of Americans age 12 and older - those eligible for the vaccine - are fully vaccinated. I’m not comforted by this percentage rate; it feels much too low for such an unpredictable, deadly virus. Are four out of ten people okay rolling the dice on this one?

I have to wonder how people have lived through the same past 20 months as me but have chosen not to vaccinate, not to mask up, and not to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID. How are they so confident they’ll survive? How do they not fear inadvertently killing another human being? Were they not watching the same news as me - of tractor trailer trucks lined up on city streets, acting as mobile morgues because the hospitals were too full of dead bodies? That haunting image alone was enough to make me think the vaccine was worth getting.

Towards the beginning of the pandemic, I remember watching footage of nurses in NYC walking into their hospitals with neighborhood residents cheering and banging pots and pans together from their apartment balconies in a show of support and love. I hoped these same people showing their support outwardly and loudly were doing what was needed behind the scenes: quietly getting their vaccinations without fanfare. I hoped they were doing what was necessary to actually prove their allegiance to those fighting on the hospitals’ front lines.

What Can We Do?

As nurses, we can help turn the tide of COVID by educating our patients and peers on the dangers of misinformation and the vital importance of doing all we can to stop the spread. We can disseminate factual knowledge to those who need it, loudly. It’s our obligation to set the record straight and offer evidence-based research to those who may be getting their news from less-than-reliable sources. 

It’s Our Time to Be Outspoken. Lives Are On the Line.

We can spread the facts at our patients’ beside, to their visitors, on social media, and to our anti-vax friends and family. We can volunteer at vaccination clinics. We can tell real-life, modern horror stories of how intubation works or how organs shut down due to this disease. It’s time to scare people straight. 

We can sport a cheery “I’m Vaccinated!” pin and wear masks in public, even when not mandated. We can run for the school board and help influence safety measures in our children's classrooms. We can help organize transportation to local pharmacies for citizens who may not be able to get to a vaccination site otherwise. There’s a hundred other ways we can do good work and keep people safe.

Over the past 20 months we’ve established that healthcare professionals are heroes. Let’s continue to do heroic things, not just with our skilled hands, but with our loud, determined voices. Make yours heard. 


References

One Year In: COVID-19 and Mental Health

We Are All Related: A Conversation with Stan Rushworth

COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States

Nurse - Social Worker - Postpartum Doula - Writer

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58 Comment(s)

toomuchbaloney

toomuchbaloney

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 43 years experience. 8,566 Posts

I just wave at my unvaccinated and unmasked neighbors and keep my distance.  I avoid aisles with unmasked faces when I must go into the grocery store.  I don't try to change their minds, I try to stay away.  I am retired.  I don't hear patients expressing confusion and seeking information, I hear lay people telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about, that I need to do more Google research and that Fauci is a liar.  There's no reasoning with that level of indoctrination.  Indoctrination requires intervention to overcome the belief system. 

JVBT, ASN

Specializes in clinic nurse. Has 7 years experience. 95 Posts

Is there no byline? If not, why not?

I agree with just about everything in this (authorless) piece and really appreciate it. I may start a thread of my own, but lately, it seems that the comments section of another online resource I use, Medscape, has been taken over by anti-vaxers. I've watched videos and read articles by the people who are in charge of Medscape and know that they are for sure NOT anti vax, but there's no one minding the store in the comments section. I say this mostly because my own comments, sticking up for masking, sticking up for vaccination, are either not published or are seriously delayed.

Nursemedic74, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency. Has 4 years experience. 12 Posts

It seems right now people, as a whole, have decided to take a stand as to what they feel is “morally right.”  The sad part is this country fails to unify do to one reason or another. 
There as been race issues, gender inequality, rights to a person’s own body, legal narcotics and of course what party you belong to.  There has always been a reason to separate the people in our country and this I just one more reason.   Now, it’s the vaccinated and unvaccinated.  This issue is as big as all the others.  It’s a matter of life and death and the numbers don’t lie.   It’s been called a hoax but anyone in health care at this point has either watched some pass due to covid or personally know someone who has passed.  I work ED and I see the patients that come in short of breath, fever, nausea and about to fall out needing oxygen.  Of all the patients that have come through, I haven’t had to put one person in a closed critical room that was vaccinated.  I have had a few positive that have been vaccinated but non requiring any support. I’m a “seeing is believing” type of person and I have seen over the past 2 years “covid is real” and vaccinated makes a difference. 

NurseTara3

NurseTara3

Specializes in Teaching Basic First Aide and CPR. Has 4 years experience. 5 Posts

Thank you so much for this thoughtful piece.  Very well said.

JKL33

6,267 Posts

On 10/19/2021 at 12:27 PM, toomuchbaloney said:

I am retired.  I don't hear patients expressing confusion and seeking information, I hear lay people telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about, that I need to do more Google research and that Fauci is a liar. 

It makes sense that being retired you will only hear the latter and not the former.

Rarncpa

Rarncpa

4 Posts

I concur with everything Nurse Jenna said. This is what makes us qualified with the knowledge and privilege to provide pt education inside and outside the facility. Let's just focus on the benefits with pride and hope that we shall overcome this constant battle. Florence Nightingale would do the same - we are science. An RN in our ward said, that's why we were awarded Bachelor or Masters of Science after meeting all the academic requirements. Keep the fighting spirit for a better community.

toomuchbaloney

toomuchbaloney

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 43 years experience. 8,566 Posts

1 hour ago, JKL33 said:

It makes sense that being retired you will only hear the latter and not the former.

Yep. 

No patient contact in a region that is barely 50% vaccinated. Too much contact with people who are angry about the mitigation.  

offlabel

offlabel

1,385 Posts

I don't worry about people that aren't wearing a mask because I'm vaccinated.

Horror stories taken out of context are as bad information as irrational anti-vaccine excuses. Zero covid infections is not possible and trying to achieve it is harmful. 

Trying to scare a fit 30 year olds whose only symptom of a covid infection is general malaise for a few days with the horrific death of a 45 BMI 60 year old just saps the credibility of the medical community. They smell that a mile away. 

Loud, preachy, shrill apocalyptic sensationalism just makes people more suspicious of you and there's already plenty of that on the other side.

BTW...I've spent the last month on a proning team. I know who dies (most of the patients I've proned have died) and I know who just feels awful and stays home and gets better and I know who doesn't get sick at all.

We know there are people that will resist getting vaccinated. They've declared who they are. Dramatic anecdotes about a small minority of dead patients that don't have anything in common with most people we're trying to convince are just not helpful. 

And before the wildly outlier kids that die in the PICU are invoked, they had a far better chance of dying from pneumonia from another cause than they did from covid. 

 

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 45 years experience. 11 Articles; 17,335 Posts

Spoke to my SIL and 50+yo brother this weekend, lives in 3 states away; he works from home and helps care for her disabled mother with dementia living with them.  Learned that my brother was in the ED last week due to abdominal pain-- DX diverticulitis and surprise had blood sugar > 350, new DX diabetes. 

Asked my SIL if she got her COVID vaccine as had to wait till had mammogram in late July..."No, too busy with Mom, brother not immunized either."  Told them wanted to visit him but they need to be vaxinated due to my medical HX and fact has aide visiting 2-3x week,  SIL extended family that visits not immunized as "already had covid".     Reinforced need to protect HER mother and themselves --along with visitors.   

Got text message yesterday that she got her 1st Pfizer shot.  So continual  non-confrontational discussion allaying fears can work.

PsychNurse24

PsychNurse24, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatric, in school for PMHNP.. Has 13 years experience. 142 Posts

The fact that you want to disseminate information “loudly”and you want to “scare people straight” is disturbing to me. It is exactly that tactic that people object to. Whether you agree or not, people have a choice to make about being vaccinated.  I think perhaps you need to review Nursing ethics.  Would you ever consider yelling at your diabetic patients to stop eating so much or to start exercising?  Would you try to scare them straight and not just limit yourself to disseminating information loudly to your patients, but to their families?!!  It sounds to me like you’re encouraging aggressiveness while treating your patients.   If I recall, advocating for your patient is the number one duty you have as a Nurse.  It doesn’t matter if you agree with your patients decisions about healthcare or not, as Nurses, we always advocate for our patients wishes.  And if I worked with you and saw you using such tactics on patients or their families, I would file a complaint with your state board of Nursing!

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 8,052 Posts

36 minutes ago, PsychNurse24 said:

The fact that you want to disseminate information “loudly”and you want to “scare people straight” is disturbing to me. It is exactly that tactic that people object to. Whether you agree or not, people have a choice to make about being vaccinated.  I think perhaps you need to review Nursing ethics.  Would you ever consider yelling at your diabetic patients to stop eating so much or to start exercising?  Would you try to scare them straight and not just limit yourself to disseminating information loudly to your patients, but to their families?!!  It sounds to me like you’re encouraging aggressiveness while treating your patients.   If I recall, advocating for your patient is the number one duty you have as a Nurse.  It doesn’t matter if you agree with your patients decisions about healthcare or not, as Nurses, we always advocate for our patients wishes.  And if I worked with you and saw you using such tactics on patients or their families, I would file a complaint with your state board of Nursing!

I would completely agree that nobody should be using false or misleading information to make an argument either for or against vaccination, but there doesn't seem to be any here.

As for staunchly opposing causing harm to others, yes, that is very clearly the role of a nurse.  What exactly would your complaint to the board of nursing say?