With the introduction of vaccinations to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), nurses and other healthcare professionals have knowledge gaps related to the vaccine’s risks, safety, and efficacy. As the most trusted profession 18 years running, the public is turning to nurses for answers in a time where there are few.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken many lives and created unprecedented conditions affecting millions worldwide. Nurses and other frontline healthcare staff are contracting the virus at alarming rates, leading to severe staffing shortages in near-capacity hospitals. The new vaccine is set to be given to frontline healthcare workers first to prevent and slow transmission of the virus. Because of the “warp speed” in which this vaccine was developed, nurses and the general public have concerns.
There are mixed emotions among healthcare professionals and the public about the COVID-19 vaccines. Surveys indicate that many do not want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, citing its brief research phase (and subsequent ‘lack’ of data compared to vaccines with years of research) and fast application for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
According to an October 2020 survey by the American Nurses Association (ANA), almost half of the nurse respondents reported feeling uncomfortable about discussing the COVID-19 vaccine with patients. The survey also showed significant concern amongst nurses regarding the speed at which the vaccine was developed (84%) and perceived lack of information about the vaccines for healthcare professionals (79%).
American Nurses Association (ANA) President Dr. Ernest Grant, PhD, RN said, “Education of nurses and other healthcare workers must be a top priority to ensure a high level of vaccination among these essential workers. This is critical, both to protect these front-line providers, as well as in recognition of how their behavior and beliefs influence the public.”
In alignment with the statement made by Dr. Grant, PhD, RN, ONA recommends the following measures:
• Widespread education and dissemination of safety and efficacy information on the COVID-19 vaccination.
• Registered nurses practicing in accordance with the ANA Code of Ethics (2015) by facilitating open, honest discussions with patients and families regarding accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine to empower the public to make informed decisions about vaccination and the impact it has on public health and safety, while simultaneously acknowledging and respecting the individual’s right to make their own healthcare decisions.
• Advocating for the involvement of registered nurses in the processes of planning and implementation of the vaccine to ensure equity and ethical practice.
• Continued practice of wearing masks, social distancing, and quarantining protocols per CDC guidelines to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
CDC – COVID Vaccine Resource: