Month-Long Nurses Week Celebration Starts Today! Nurses Week Contest #4
Healthcare professionals have expressed vaccine hesitancy due to fear, mistrust, and misinformation. Although nurses are entitled to their opinion, should this influence them when it comes to administering vaccines? Should nurses be allowed to refuse to administer COVID vaccines? What do YOU think? The best Pro or Anti Vaccine read will win $100 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of allnurses Ebooks. Contest rules are found below.
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There’s a lot of controversy about the COVID-19 vaccines. I’ve seen articles about how it causes infertility, autoimmunity and even death. Almost 50% of my students have expressed vaccine hesitancy due to fear and misinformation. Some of them have told me they are immunocompromised, and one said that their religion forbids vaccination. Most of them said, “I just want to wait and see if it’s safe.”
Are vaccinations safe?
There’s been a huge debate for years over whether vaccines cause health problems. When I was about to give birth back in 2009, I did my own research to be absolutely sure that vaccinating my newborn was the way to go. I found no evidence then that vaccination causes autism, and there’s even more evidence now that there is no link between autism and vaccines or any of their ingredients (like thimerosal, which was removed from all vaccines except multi-dose flu vaccines by 2001)1
The flu shot gave me the flu…
You’ve probably heard someone say, “I got the flu vaccine once, and it gave me the flu – I’m never getting it again.” What they don’t realize is that 1) the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu and, 2) in these cases, the person had already been exposed to the flu when they got vaccinated. The development of the flu would have occurred regardless of the vaccination. Modern vaccines are constructed in such a way that they cannot cause the disease for which you are being vaccinated against.
What about the COVID-19 vaccines?
As I stated in the summary, there’s a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines including that they cause infertility or autoimmunity.2,3 In addition I have read that they contain a tracking chip and that the RNA from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines can modify your genes. There is no evidence that any of these assertions are true.4 Though there may be small, isolated cases of side effects occurring with vaccines, they do not outweigh the very real danger of becoming significantly ill from COVID-19. Right now, all the vaccines being used in the US (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) have 100% efficacy in preventing hospitalization and/or death from COVID-19. Millions of people have been safely vaccinated against COVID-19, and while the evidence is still out as to whether those of us who have been vaccinated can give it to others, we do know that it is working to prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
mRNA technology such as that used in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines has been around for over a decade. You may recall from A&P or biology that mRNA is made in your body from DNA. The way it works in your body is: Segments of your DNA (called genes) code for mRNA (transcription) and then mRNA codes for proteins (translation). An mRNA vaccine enters your body and is translated into proteins that elicit an immune response. There’s no machinery or ability for your body to incorporate the mRNA into your genetic code. Once it’s translated, the mRNA just gets destroyed by catalytic enzymes.5
It’s also important to note that despite the vaccines being offered under emergency use authorization (EUA), “For this EUA, the FDA required significantly more data on safety and efficacy than usual,” said Janis Orlowski, MD, chief health care officer at the AAMC.5
No serious health problems were reported by the tens of thousands of people who received their vaccines during clinical trials. The most common side effects — fatigue, headaches, chills, and muscle pain — lasted about one day and most often occurred after the second dose. Since the vaccine rollout began in the U.K. and U.S., there have been sporadic reports of severe reactions in people with histories of significant allergic reactions to some foods and drugs.6
Our duty as nurses
The American Nurses Association supports that all nurses get vaccinated for COVID-19.7 The Code of Ethics for Nurses Provision 3 states, “The nurse promotes, advocates for and protects the rights, health and safety of patients.” Not getting a flu vaccine can result in increased risk of contracting flu for patients, co-workers and yourself. Despite this, nurses do refuse to take the flu vaccine – usually due to religious, medical or philosophical objections. Only 21 states have a law that requires healthcare workers to get flu vaccinations and even those laws require exemptions be allowed. Many employers mandate a flu shot, but also allow exemptions. About 1/3 of states require hospitals to offer employees flu shots and track their vaccination status. In many of these states, employees can decline a flu shot without an exemption.8
But what about the COVID-19 vaccines? Can those be required? The federal government says that COVID-19 vaccination can be required, but so far no healthcare organizations have taken this confrontational stance.5,6
I believe we have a duty as nurses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect our patients and coworkers and also to prevent mutations/variations in the vaccine. We all need to work together to eradicate COVID from the planet.
My Question: Can a nurse refuse to GIVE the vaccine?
In nursing school, I recall an ethical debate on whether or not a nurse could refuse to care for a patient having an abortion. We decided that nurses should have the right to refuse to take part in an abortion based on moral objection, though once the pregnancy is terminated, the nurse should no longer be able to refuse to give care. Does that translate to giving vaccinations? If a nurse is morally opposed to vaccinations, can they refuse to give them?
I googled “Can a nurse refuse to administer vaccines” and all I came up with was a list of articles about how many nurses are refusing to get the vaccine. It’s hard to find information on this topic.
What do you think? Should a nurse be allowed to refuse to give vaccinations? Should the reason for that opposition play a role (religious, ethical, moral, philosophical)?
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Answer 'Should a nurse be allowed to refuse to give vaccinations? Why?'
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1 Autism and vaccines
2 Why the vaccinations do NOT cause infertility
3 Vaccine myths
4 The vaccine does not cause autoimmune disorders
5 Association of American Medical Colleges: What health care workers need to know
6 COVID-19 vaccine safety
7 ANA position statement on vaccines
8 Becker’s flu shot requirements