According to the CDC and other health organizations, frontline healthcare workers have to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before everyone else due to the high risk of exposure. The high-risk patients are supposed to receive the vaccine after the healthcare workers and the public remains in the last tier with respect to the availability of the vaccine.
However, the primary concern regarding the vaccine amongst the people is the willingness of using it once it becomes available. NBC News recently conducted a study which revealed that less than 50% of Americans want to receive the immunization. This is going to significantly reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine.
This study also revealed the uncertainty amongst the healthcare workers regarding the safety of ‘Operation Warp Speed’ which was started by the U.S. government in order to promote and accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19 virus. Many healthcare workers are still unsure of whether to take the vaccine. Hence, the percentage of nurses who are supposed to take the vaccine is speculated to be low.
How Nurses feel About Vaccine
There have been differing opinions regarding the COVID-19 virus and the necessity of the vaccine. There have been discussions over the mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers in the past. For example, an article in the Journal of Pharmacy and Therapeutics outlined the issues pertaining to the compulsory vaccines for healthcare workers. It addressed the following issues,
- Balancing the rights of the healthcare worker to select the vaccination with the rights of patients
- Preservation of public health
However, this article concluded saying that healthcare workers are supposed to do everything to improve patients’ health and they chose to be vaccinated due to choosing such a profession. In COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a mixed reaction amongst the nurses with the anticipation of a vaccine requirement. For example,
- Jenny Erwin is an RN and Vice President of the local nurses’ union from Michigan. She has already been infected by the COVID-19 virus. Hence, she developed a natural immunity against this virus. However, she is doubtful about the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. She also has her doubts regarding the role of this vaccine in the future.
- The scientists and clinical researchers have not found out all the facts regarding the COVID-19 virus and this is bothersome to Jenny Erwin and other healthcare workers. According to Jenny Erwin, the researchers still do not know how people become immune to the COVID-19 virus. In this scenario, she wonders about the development of the vaccine.
- Ms Erwin has seen many patients succumb to the virus as an RN. In her point of view, the CDC and other health organizations have lost their credibility due to being unable to handle the virus from the beginning in the USA. Jenny Erwin wants to believe in the science of the vaccine, however, she does not like how political COVID has become.
Impacts of COVID 19 Pandemic on Nurse’s Life
Is the Vaccine Mandatory for Healthcare Workers?
The following questions have come to light with regards to the vaccine choice for nurses and healthcare workers with the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Should healthcare workers have the right to decline a vaccine?
- Is it necessary to mandate a vaccine based upon the type of patient population?
- What if a healthcare worker already has COVID-19 antibodies?
Mandatory vaccination has always been a hot topic. The travel nursing positions posted this fall included a caveat which read – ‘Flu vaccine-no declinations. Therefore, it has become mandatory for travel nurses to receive the flu vaccine. The vaccination for influenza was mandatory in the past during the flu season hence, the mandatory requirement of vaccination is not just to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the nurses wonder whether they will have a choice once the ‘mandatory vaccination-or-no-job’ criterion is set.
Sara Guercio, who is an RN and law school graduate, has no objection to the mandatory requirement of vaccination if it provides maximum protection to public health. However, she is concerned about the violation of ‘privacy rights’ as a nurse as well as an American citizen.Here are the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Healthcare Professionals
Over to “ANA”
American Nurses’ Association (ANA) has asked the nurses to vaccinate unless there is a medical exception. ANA does not support exemptions from the vaccine based upon the “philosophical or religious exemptions.” It may be impossible for some nurses to get the vaccine due to a medical condition and ANA has the following guideline for these nurses – “required to adopt measures or practices in the workplace to reduce the chance of disease transmission.”