Nurses must 'vigorously combat' COVID vaccine hesitancy among nurses
Nurses have been rated the most honest and ethical professionals in America for 19 consecutive years, according to the Gallup Poll, and for good reason: We provide essential care and services in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, public health departments, schools and other settings in the best and worst of times.
We earn the public’s trust by adhering to the Code of Ethics for Nurses, boiled down to a first principle of centering the needs of patients. Although the pandemic continues to showcase the dedication of nurses who labor to save lives and contain outbreaks, it also spotlights a problem within the profession that manifested quietly for years and is now reaping serious consequences: vaccine hesitancy.
Official data on nurse vaccination rates are not available, but national estimates range from 56% to 88%, with variation by employment setting and geographic location.
An American Nurses Association survey conducted in July 2021 reveals that 83% of the 125 Ohio nurse respondents had either received or planned to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
And yet, some Ohio health care systems struggle to enforce mandates as a subset of nurses threaten to quit over vaccine mandates. How did we get here? Lagging uptake of annual influenza vaccine was a warning sign that some nurses would hesitate to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Several studies published the last two decades show that a sizable percentage of nurses decline annual influenza vaccine, in some studies more frequently than pharmacists and physicians.