New survey findings indicate an urgent need to provide nurses and all healthcare professionals consistent information and include them in the vaccine development process, according to a survey of nearly 13,000 nurses conducted by the American Nurses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association (ANA).
Nearly half (44%) of nurses say they are not comfortable having conversations with their patients about COVID-19 vaccines, yet 65% said that they have provided direct care to patients with a known or suspected case of COVID-19 since February. When asked if they would voluntarily be vaccinated against COVID-19, nurses’ responses were almost evenly split with approximately one-third saying “yes” (34%), one-third, “no” (36%) and one-third (31%) unsure. These findings appear to reflect the current dearth of information presently available.
“These findings underscore the gaps that need to be addressed quickly and effectively,” said ANA president Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “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 frontline providers, as well as in recognition of how their behavior and beliefs influence the public.”
The nation’s nurses must have both a defined and visible role in the development, prioritization, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. As the largest and most trusted group of health care professionals, nurses have a key role in public awareness and education when any new vaccine is introduced.
“Any barriers that impede access to information and education must be eradicated now,” said Foundation executive director Kate Judge. “This is especially important to engage with communities of colors. Generations of Black Americans do not trust our nation’s healthcare system due to a longstanding history of healthcare inequities. There must be a concerted effort to share culturally relevant information and education to ensure that communities of color have access to and believe in the safety of lifesaving vaccines and treatments. When nurses are knowledgeable, they can better model prevention measures for their patients, combat vaccination skepticism, and share reliable information to address vaccine hesitancy and ultimately protect the public.”
The Foundation and ANA support the development of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines along with equitable distribution to stem the spread and impact of COVID-19 across the nation. ANA has a longstanding commitment to immunization as a critical component of public health. ANA urges Congress and the administration to be transparent in its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and to consider recommendations from frontline workers on how to allocate successfully.
When safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available, ANA strongly recommends that nurses are prioritized to be vaccinated according to current recommendations for the immunization of healthcare professionals by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). ANA has developed key principles to guide nurses and other health care professionals’ consideration for COVID-19 vaccinations and immunization.
“ANA is prepared to share credible information with nurses and to provide educational resources about the vaccine development process and about vaccines when they are approved by the FDA,” said Grant.
Source: American Nurses Association (ANA)