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COVID Misinformation/Ignorance

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Specializes in Emergency/med surg. Has 6 years experience.

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How do you deal with ignorant family members/friends. I cannot deal with ignorant, misinformed people anymore - especially when it hits close to home w/ friends and family for some reason I take it personally and when they do not have any desire to learn and become better informed. 

My in-laws tried to tell me this influx of COVID cases could also be flu and the numbers are exaggerated - and as an ER nurse -- working in two ERs and having done some time in a COVID ICU, seeing all the horrors first hand, like many of you did - when people just spew absolute misinformation absolute BS- it infuriates my soul - it undermines all the hard-work we have done. It is so *** disheartening I cannot even begin to explain it. 

FIRSTLY- for the last 1 month both my ER’s as well as neighboring hospitals are running what we call a pandemic resp panel which checks for SARS-CoV-2 AND a slew of other possible resp viral illnesses Adenovirus/parainfluenza, influenza A/B, etc. SO saying these numbers could be flu is simply inaccurate. 

then … I mentioned how excited I was for my second COVID vaccine. Because I spent the previous night in a COVID room for hours with a patient who had a productive cough, who was gasping for breath just to stand and pivot to the commode. I’ve taken care of my own co-workers infected with COVID, which hurts my soul, and makes me realize I could be next. 

This is why I was excited for the part 2 of the vaccine— but don’t worry I was then compared to a heroin addict and asked if I was going to get the second injection in between my toes… followed by a bunch of comments of saying they aren’t going to get it … or “let’s see what happens to all these other people getting it” just a complete disregard for science, evidence and the fact that this vaccine is our our only hope for a return to normalcy… mind you one of these people is a teacher - I would like to think she believe in science and research- clearly not - she goes on to comment on how she doesn’t get the flu vaccine but all her students were mandated the flu vaccine how the *** is that even fair??? And she’s complaining that her job is strongly urging a COVID swab ???? What is wrong with knowing you’re negative- before you teach CHILDREN!!?? 

THEN … one of my best friends in the whole world — feel like I can’t talk to her about COVID anymore either … she’s against the vaccine due to “infertility claims” give me a *** break - whatever that’s your right but do some actual research first from RCT’s not BS… 

she works a desk job that happens to be in healthcare in the outpatient setting she is pissed about the lack of hazard pay and pissed about her lack of an N-95 yet she isn’t providing any patient care whatsoever- meanwhile a good portion of us were denied hazard pay, N-95's. 

I cannot do this anymore. I I drove to my night shift in the cold rain crying… which is a nice change from the chest pain I used to have months ago. No one understands the *** we go through. I’ve never felt so alone as a nurse, so undermined, so worthless and not cared about ever in my nursing career. This pandemic hurts so much. 

The hope I had for the new year … the hope I had for the vaccine is squashed by people’s *** ignorance.  I apologize for the length - its been a lot - thank you 

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

I hope it felt good to type all that out, your frustration is very palpable. It's like some people are living in an alternate reality and just making crap up as they go a long. I share your excitement over the vaccine, and welcome it and as time passes I believe more people will come around. 

I don't know what the solution is to the misinformation.

I have co workers who are refusing the vaccine, refusing to work with covid patients, constantly spouting conspiracy theories about microchips and Bill Gates. All you can do is roll your eyes.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

There are lots of opinions out there and the public has rightfully felt jerked around by those in charge. Why should they trust the experts when those experts don't always seem to know the truth?

If I were you, I would just not discuss covid with people. That's what I do for the most part. There are lots of disagreements out there as to how the whole crisis should be handled. It's very political, and politics are generally a good subject to avoid.

GS ED RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency/med surg. Has 6 years experience.

On 1/2/2021 at 8:05 AM, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

I hope it felt good to type all that out, your frustration is very palpable. It's like some people are living in an alternate reality and just making crap up as they go a long. I share your excitement over the vaccine, and welcome it and as time passes I believe more people will come around. 

I don't know what the solution is to the misinformation.

I have co workers who are refusing the vaccine, refusing to work with covid patients, constantly spouting conspiracy theories about microchips and Bill Gates. All you can do is roll your eyes.

Yes it did feel DAMN good to get it out thank you for reading - thank you for your advice. Comforting to know I’m not the only one!! 

GS ED RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency/med surg. Has 6 years experience.

52 minutes ago, Emergent said:

There are lots of opinions out there and the public has rightfully felt jerked around by those in charge. Why should they trust the experts when those experts don't always seem to know the truth?

If I were you, I would just not discuss covid with people. That's what I do for the most part. There are lots of disagreements out there as to how the whole crisis should be handled. It's very political, and politics are generally a good subject to avoid.

Thank you for the advice —/ you’re right really need to start avoiding the topic- I also agree with the potential mistrust of experts - we were all jerked around in the beginning with no masks vs. masks, 2 week quarantine that turned into months - I get it - BUT you can’t fake my lived experiences at work and all of our experiences and you cannot fake the clinical trials done on the vaccines demonstrating ~95% efficacy - you can’t fake the 20+ years data that’s been done on mRNA vaccines - they don’t want to hear it and frankly I’m tired of even telling it to people who don’t care to expand their minds - listen I get it I was nervous about the vaccine I didn’t get it the first week - I did my research - I read, I talked to people much smarter than me and made an informed decision to get it and I’m so happy and grateful for the opportunity. 

macawake, MSN

Has 13 years experience.

4 hours ago, GS ED RN said:

The hope I had for the new year … the hope I had for the vaccine is squashed by people’s *** ignorance.  I apologize for the length - its been a lot - thank you 

There’s really no need to apologize. These past nine months have been extremely hard for many people and healthcare professionals like yourself working on the frontline have born the brunt of it. My heart goes out to you reading your words where your pain and emotional fatigue is palpable. 

Working in life-and-death situations for such a long time is a prolonged trauma. I think your initial feelings of optimism for the new year were valid. They still are in my opinion, but I can easily see why you are having problems re-connecting with that optimism. But as hard as it might be to internalize at the moment, this too shall pass. Things will get better! 
 

4 hours ago, GS ED RN said:

then … I mentioned how excited I was for my second COVID vaccine. Because I spent the previous night in a covid room for hours with a patient who had a productive cough, who was gasping for breath just to stand and pivot to the commode. I’ve taken care of my own co-workers infected with COVID, which hurts my soul, and makes me realize I could be next. 

This is why I was excited for the part 2 of the vaccin— but don’t worry I was then compared to a heroin addict and asked if I was going to get the second injection in between my toes… followed by a bunch of comments of saying they aren’t going to get it … or “let’s see what happens to all these other people getting it” just a complete disregard for science, evidence and the fact that this vaccine is our our only hope for a return to normalcy… 

There’s ignorance and then there’s cruelty. In my opinion, this qualifies as the latter. What the hell is wrong with a person who says something like that? Especially to a healthcare worker who encounters this disease on a daily basis. I hope my words don’t cause you further pain. That is not my intention! I realize I have no idea who the person is who said this to you and I hope it isn’t someone real close to you. But if it were me, I would protect myself from this person and distance myself from them, at least for the duration of the pandemic. Then perhaps later when I felt stronger and had had a chance to heal from the ordeal you’re going through right now, I’d approach them and see if the relationship could be repaired. Assuming that’s what I wanted. 

I hope that you have people in your life who are more in touch with reality than the ones you’ve described in this post. If you do, perhaps focus more on them and avoid the ones who are actively contributing to the trauma you’re experiencing. Can you talk to people at work and get some support from them? They are better equipped to understand what you’re going through as they’re living it as well. 

Unfortunately there’s no vaccine for ignorance and stupidity, so the best we can all do is to try to seek out people and things that give us positive energy and avoid those who are unable or unwilling to do that. 
 

I wish you the very best! Take care 🤗 (<— cyberhug)

GS ED RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency/med surg. Has 6 years experience.

4 minutes ago, macawake said:

There’s really no need to apologize. These past nine months have been extremely hard for many people and healthcare professionals like yourself  working in the frontline have born the brunt of it. My heart goes out to you reading your words where your pain and emotional fatigue is palpable. 

Working in life-and-death situations for such a long time is a prolonged trauma. I think your initial feelings of optimism for the new year were valid. They still are in my opinion, but I can easily see why you are having problems re-connecting with that optimism. But as hard as it might be to internalize at the moment, this too shall pass. Things will get better! 
 

There’s ignorance and then there’s cruelty. In my opinion, this qualifies as the latter. What the hell is wrong with a person who says something like that? Especially to a healthcare worker who encounters this disease on a daily basis. I hope my words don’t cause you further pain. That is not my intention! I realize I have no idea who the person is who said this to you and I hope it isn’t someone real close to you. But if it were me, I would protect myself from this person and distance myself from them, at least for the duration of the pandemic. Then perhaps later when I felt stronger and had had a chance to heal from the ordeal you’re going through right now, I’d approach them and see if the relationship could be repaired. Assuming that’s what I wanted. 

I hope that you have people in your life who are more in touch with reality then the ones you’ve described in this post. If you do, perhaps focus more on them and avoid the ones who are actively contributing to the trauma you’re experiencing. Can you talk to people at work and get some support from them? They are better equipped to understand what you’re going through as they’re living it as well. 

Unfortunately there’s no vaccine for ignorance and stupidity, so the best we can all do is to try to seek out people and things that give positive energy and avoid those who are unable or unwilling to do that. 
 

I wish you the very best! Take care 🤗 (<— cyberhug)

Thank you so so much - just the validation of my feelings helps - I mean I don’t know that their intentions were to be cruel or hurtful - we all have dark senses of humor - but that comment really hit a nerve. My plan is to build a wall away from those people for now maybe forever I don’t care anymore. Thankfully my co-workers are wonderful and we understand each other I just didn’t want to dive into it at work because I didn’t want to become emotionally or sound too angry - because quite frankly 2 days later I’m still very angry about it. I do have hope for this vaccine and hope that the healers of the world will start healing soon. Thank you again 🙂 

macawake, MSN

Has 13 years experience.

4 hours ago, GS ED RN said:

THEN … one of my best friends in the whole world — feel like I can’t talk to her about COVID anymore either … she’s against the vaccine due to “infertility claims” give me a *** break - whatever that’s your right but do some actual research first from RCT’s not BS… 

This is so dumb it beggars belief. I saw one poster mention this infertility rubbish a couple of weeks ago. Seeing as an infertility evaluation is normally initiated (for women under 35) after one YEAR of being unable to conceive despite having unprotected intercourse, I wonder how these people think that there’s even been enough time to reach that conclusion. There’s absolutely nothing in the vaccine research data that indicates this might be true. It’s pure disinformation. But I know you know that. Just wish your friend did too. 
 

Again, take care and stay safe! 👋🏼👋🏼
 

Edited to add: I’m glad you have supportive co-workers, that really helps. I’m extremely lucky in that I don’t know a single person who doesn’t believe that the pandemic is real. I’m Scandinavian and most people are quite pragmatic and down-to-earth. Most are immune to conspiracy theories so the misinfromation out there never really gained any traction. Despite this, I feel that perhaps the only ones who really, fully understand exactly how taxing this has been are the people who work with patients on a daily basis and see the effects of the pandemic firsthand.

GS ED RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency/med surg. Has 6 years experience.

33 minutes ago, macawake said:

This is so dumb it beggars belief. I saw one poster mention this infertility rubbish a couple of weeks ago. Seeing as an infertility evaluation is normally initiated (for women under 35) after one YEAR of being unable to conceive despite having unprotected intercourse, I wonder how these people think that there’s even been enough time to reach that conclusion. There’s absolutely nothing in the vaccine research data that indicates this might be true. It’s pure disinformation. But I know you know that. Just wish your friend did too. 
 

Again, take care and be safe! 👋🏼👋🏼

Exactly thank you!! And I’m just like okay they certainly can’t say it’s “safe” for fertility-  too soon. But they sure as *** can’t say it’s not - check the source ... oh a scorned ex Pfizer worker made the claim!!  Come on! And I’m sorry this is going to sound harsh and off-putting but a part of me wants to just say well you can’t be fertile if you’re dead (b/c COVID killed you) I know that’s a harsh exaggeration. 

macawake, MSN

Has 13 years experience.

25 minutes ago, GS ED RN said:

Exactly thank you!! And I’m just like okay they certainly can’t say it’s “safe” for fertility-  too soon. But they sure as *** can’t say it’s not - check the source ... oh a scorned ex Pfizer worker made the claim!!  Come on! And I’m sorry this is going to sound harsh and off-putting but a part of me wants to just say well you can’t be fertile if you’re dead (b/c COVID killed you) I know that’s a harsh exaggeration. 

It might be harsh, but completely understandable. In my opinion you’ve earned the right to feel/think that. 

2 hours ago, GS ED RN said:

Thank you so so much - just the validation of my feelings helps - I mean I don’t know that their intentions were to be cruel or hurtful - we all have dark senses of humor - but that comment really hit a nerve. My plan is to build a wall away from those people for now maybe forever I don’t care anymore. Thankfully my co-workers are wonderful and we understand each other I just didn’t want to dive into it at work because I didn’t want to become emotionally or sound too angry - because quite frankly 2 days later I’m still very angry about it. I do have hope for this vaccine and hope that the healers of the world will start healing soon. Thank you again 🙂 

I hear you. 

I retired a bit early so I managed to avoid this *** show of a public health disaster. My many health professional friends, also with decades of experience, express much of the same experience and frustration you shared here.  

Personally, I am not nice to covidiots in face to face interactions...I'm direct and factual...or I'm insulting and condescending...it depends upon their approach with me.  I am not looking for work, approval or new friends so I don't have any inspiration to entertain the fears, conspiracies and propaganda that fill their thinking.  Four years of being polite to ignorant Trump sycophants has left me bitter about the strategy of ignoring idiocy.

GS ED RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency/med surg. Has 6 years experience.

48 minutes ago, toomuchbaloney said:

I hear you. 

I retired a bit early so I managed to avoid this *** show of a public health disaster. My many health professional friends, also with decades of experience, express much of the same experience and frustration you shared here.  

Personally, I am not nice to covidiots in face to face interactions...I'm direct and factual...or I'm insulting and condescending...it depends upon their approach with me.  I am not looking for work, approval or new friends so I don't have any inspiration to entertain the fears, conspiracies and propaganda that fill their thinking.  Four years of being polite to ignorant Trump sycophants has left me bitter about the strategy of ignoring idiocy.

I accepted the Trumpers for what they were -but the COVID minimizes/deniers, the anti-Vaxxers, the science illiterate (by choice) .... I simply cannot and that’s probably because I have such a personal affliction with COVID being on the frontlines- my husband can ignore the ignorance of my in-laws but I just just have such a hard time when it comes to this- at the end of the day whether you believe in covid or vaccines or not if you’re sick we are GOING To take care if you no matter what, with the same level of care we would anyone - you’ll be cared for whether you were blatantly irresponsible selfish *** the same as if you were my fellow covid+ healthcare worker - which is probably why my non-healthcare working husband can accept peoples’ poor decisions and I cannot. 

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 40 years experience.

OP, you described it so clearly! Thank you!

I, too, feel so very frustrated when my relatives discount the CDC, Dr. Fauci, and the various studies that I have posted on face book. When I posted a video of zdoggmd with Dr. Paul Offit, my niece said she couldn't believe anything zdoggmd said, "He's just a blogger."

But the sources she uses are simply not true. When she refuses to look at the truth, how can she understand?

"There are none so blind as those who will not see."

GS ED RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency/med surg. Has 6 years experience.

5 hours ago, Kitiger said:

OP, you described it so clearly! Thank you!

I, too, feel so very frustrated when my relatives discount the CDC, Dr. Fauci, and the various studies that I have posted on face book. When I posted a video of zdoggmd with Dr. Paul Offit, my niece said she couldn't believe anything zdoggmd said, "He's just a blogger."

But the sources she uses are simply not true. When she refuses to look at the truth, how can she understand?

"There are none so blind as those who will not see."

I love zdogg!! I find him credible and he tells how it is - but I actually purposely don’t re-post him because I know people are going to say he’s “one doctor- not an immunologist, ID doc blah blah. Whatever so in that case I have posted the publications of the research publications in New England Journal of Medicine - they don’t read it. I’m no expert at reading research even with my MSN-  I took notes made high-lights, looked up things etc.  I’ve been happy to answer people’s questions and welcome and appreciate the questions versus the BS Claims. The misinformation is just as dangerous as the virus!! 

Edited by GS ED RN

To be honest, I tend to deal with it by limiting my interactions with people who have no interest in educating themselves.

I am very, very blessed to have an immediate family who take COVID seriously, and who want to get the vaccine.  I also have chosen to have only a small number of facebook friends, limited to people I WANT to interact with.  I have a few family members who do not share my politics, so we tend to avoid politically charged discussions, and I will sometimes limit who sees my posts.

There have been times when I've commented on something posted by a friend, and then the comments went south because friends of friends turned out to be anti-science nut jobs. And at that point, I just stop reading and replying. If I post facts and logic, and they respond with insults, it's time to move on.

When I can't avoid a conversation, I will sometimes just keep it to my personal experience. When people are listening to conspiracy theorists and don't trust science, it's easy for them to dismiss actual research. But it's a lot harder for them to discount an eyewitness standing in front of them.  We were having some masonry done this Summer, and when I got out of my car wearing my scrubs, one of the workers asked me what I thought of "all this COVID stuff."  I said something about how our numbers were fortunately much lower than when the Spring spike overwhelmed the hospital, but we're still seeing people needing hospitalization, so best to stay cautious. The guy then said, "well, I think it's all a crock!"  I just said, "well, I was on a COVID unit today, and one of my patients died this afternoon."  His eyes got wide, and he was visibly taken aback.  I don't know what he expected me to say, but it wasn't that. Then I went inside to shower before touching my kids.

On 1/2/2021 at 11:44 AM, GS ED RN said:

 at the end of the day whether you believe in covid or vaccines or not if you’re sick we are GOING To take care if you no matter what, with the same level of care we would anyone - you’ll be cared for whether you were blatantly irresponsible selfish *** the same as if you were my fellow covid+ healthcare worker - which is probably why my non-healthcare working husband can accept peoples’ poor decisions and I cannot. 

I had my first COVID patient who didn't believe in COVID last week.  He did behave himself on my shift, but had given quite a few of my colleagues a hard time because they didn't need to be wearing those masks, and he certainly didn't.  He should be allowed to walk around the halls, etc. Some of the more senior nurses had to crack down on him, and he backed down just short of them calling security.

At one point, he was going on about how COVID isn't real with one of the doctors.  The doctor simply reached over to the wall, turned off the O2 flow, and continued the conversation.  The patient continued railing, as his breath became more labored, then he paused.  The doctor said, "that doesn't feel very good, does it?" And turned the O2 back up, and explained what COVID was doing to his lungs and why he needed supplemental O2.  I really wish I could have been there to see that exchange in person.

It's infuriating to know he was out there in the community, proudly and defiantly going about maskless. According to his family, he simply refused to wear one, though masks have been mandated in our state for months.  I can only hope he didn't infect too many people before he found himself in the hospital.

Fortunately, he's not the norm.  But my heart goes out to those of you working in areas where COVID denial is much more prevalent.

nursej22, MSN, RN

Specializes in med/surg,CV. Has 36 years experience.

OP, know that you are not alone and you are a hero. I am fortunate to have a family that believes in science, and some of them might be a little afraid of how I would come down on them is they said covid was a hoax and refused a vaccine. And if someone mocked me for getting vaccinated I would flat out tell them that seems like a cruel thing to say. 

I do occasionally post on the local community facebook group when someone posts something stupid. I don't attack or mock, I just clearly state facts and move on. I've been called all sorts of derogatory names, but that says more about the name callers than it does about me. 

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 40 years experience.

9 hours ago, turtlesRcool said:

To be honest, I tend to deal with it by limiting my interactions with people who have no interest in educating themselves.

There have been times when I've commented on something posted by a friend, and then the comments went south because friends of friends turned out to be anti-science nut jobs. And at that point, I just stop reading and replying. If I post facts and logic, and they respond with insults, it's time to move on.

Exactly!