1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN, FAAN


Nurses need to support the evidence, not the myths.


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One expects nurses to be better informed than the general public when it comes to science and health matters. But it seems some nurses aren't so knowledgeable when it comes to accepting the COVID-19 vaccine. While the majority have been vaccinated and support vaccination efforts, some have been hesitant to do so because of concerns over how quickly the vaccine was manufactured or unknowns about adverse effects. There are also a number of nurses who oppose the evidence-based recommendations on vaccination. And that's a problem.

Figure. Maureen Shaw... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Maureen Shawn Kennedy

In July, the COVID Vaccine Facts for Nurses campaign, sponsored by Johnson and Johnson in collaboration with the American Nurses Association and other nursing organizations, conducted a survey of 4,912 U.S. nurses. In answer to the question, "Are you vaccinated or do you plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine," 88% said yes, 7% said no, and 4% were undecided. But 10% noted they didn't trust that the vaccines were safe and effective. When asked about mandatory vaccines as a condition of employment, 29% were against it. (See more results at


Now that at least one COVID-19 vaccine has been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration, more health care systems, organizations, and government agencies are mandating vaccinations for employees. While exemptions and accommodations will understandably and deservedly be made for some individuals, vaccination seems a reasonable expectation for a safe workplace. The mandates, however, have fueled broad antimandate and antivaccine protests and nurses are among the participants.


One group proclaimed there were over 13,000 vaccine deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). According to the CDC, however, from December 14, 2020, to August 23, VAERS received 6,968 reports of deaths (0.0019%) among the 363 million people who received a COVID-19 vaccine during that time. What's important to note is that these reports can be submitted by anyone (so there can be duplicates or erroneous reports) and shouldn't be interpreted as actual vaccine-related deaths. The CDC site specifically notes, "VAERS data alone cannot determine if the vaccine caused the reported adverse event. This specific limitation has caused confusion about the publicly available data, specifically regarding the number of reported deaths."


Photos are appearing in the news media of nurses in scrubs protesting mandatory vaccinations outside of hospitals. Posts on social media sites have sprung up to challenge evidence of vaccine safety and promote unfounded treatments and misinformation. According to an August 11 report on, nurses are active on those sites, too, spreading misinformation.


I was horrified to see a video clip that received widespread dissemination online of a nurse speaking at an Ohio state legislature meeting on mandatory vaccinations. She and a physician testified against mandates, claiming an erroneous (and frankly ridiculous) theory that the COVID-19 vaccine causes people to become magnetized. She attempted to show that metal objects would stick to her, but the objects kept falling off.


However, by identifying herself as a nurse and speaking as a health care professional, she could cause harm if people listen and follow her advice. Her actions also reflect on nursing's credibility-the public might wonder if this licensed person is representative of the profession, and if they can trust advice from nurses.


With our nursing license comes not only a legal obligation to practice according to accepted professional standards, but also an ethical contract that guides professional behavior. Part of this would be ensuring one has accurate information before promoting or dismissing health interventions.


Over 50 medical, nursing, and health organizations signed on to a document supporting mandated vaccinations against COVID-19 ( But more is needed-from all of us-to drown out the voices of those vocal few who confuse the public. As noted in the report, "Viral videos of anti-vaccination nurses are 'leveraging the credibility of medical professionals' to create a false impression that there is considerable debate about Covid vaccines among doctors and nurses when, in reality, there is a consensus about their efficacy and safety."