1. Alexander, Mary MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN
  2. INS Chief Executive Officer Editor, Journal of Infusion Nursing

Article Content

By the time this editorial is published, I hope all that are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination have done so. There are several reasons to receive the vaccine. First, the vaccine is effective against the COVID-19 virus for oneself, and will also protect family, community, and patients. A recent article in Yale Medicine, "Comparing the COVID-19 Vaccines: How Are They Different?" tracked the efficacy of the 3 vaccines available in the United States.1 Additionally, as more people receive the vaccine, life will return more to "normal": more people will be able to return to in-person events and travel.

Mary Alexander, MA, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN INS Chief Executive Officer Editor,

There are several reasons people have declined the vaccine. They are unsure of its effectiveness against the COVID-19 virus, they have already had the COVID-19 virus, they don't have a perceived need or risk, they have concerns about the vaccine's safety and its side effects, they are experiencing barriers to access, and lastly, they may simply not believe that the COVID-19 vaccine works. Throughout the vaccine rollout, there has been a huge amount of both misinformation and disinformation in relation to the vaccine. Merriam-Webster defines misinformation as "incorrect or misleading information"2 and disinformation as "false information deliberately and often covertly spread in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth"-also known as "planting rumors."3


The public relies on nurses to be trusted professionals who provide them with evidence-based information. If you'd like to refresh your knowledge or would like a website to educate others, go to, where the American Nurses Association (ANA) has partnered with several nursing and health care organizations to develop a website with vaccine information. Also, you can encourage the vaccine hesitant to check out the Hear Us Out Campaign,4 a national initiative launched by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) that shares with the public nurses' experiences on the frontlines in order to encourage vaccination.


On September 27, 2021, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and 8 other leading nursing organizations issued a policy brief5 to provide guidance to boards of nursing and nursing education that have been receiving requests from students for alternate clinical experiences when a program's clinical sites require the COVID-19 vaccine. The brief states that if a student refuses to be vaccinated and is not entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the disability laws or for a sincerely held religious belief, then the student may be disenrolled from the program or may not graduate if clinical requirements are not fulfilled.5 Although simulation experiences are an important component of clinical education, they are not a substitute for direct patient care, and boards of nursing have no obligation to waive their current rules/regulations about clinical experiences for unvaccinated students.5


And on November 16, 2021, the NCSBN and 7 other leading nursing organizations issued another policy brief to address the misinformation that nurses are disseminating about COVID-19: "It is an expectation of the US boards of nursing, the profession, and the public that nurses uphold the truth, the principles of the Code of Ethics for Nurses (ANA, 2015) and the highest scientific standards when disseminating information about COVID-19 or any other health-related condition or situation."6 It also states that "any nurse who violates their state nurse practice act or threatens the health and safety of the public through the dissemination of misleading or incorrect information pertaining to COVID-19, vaccines, and associated treatment through verbal or written methods including social media may be disciplined by their board of nursing."6 In essence, propagating misleading or incorrect information pertaining to COVID-19 may place a nurse's license and/or their career in jeopardy.


What can we do in the face of misinformation, disinformation, and vaccine hesitancy? We can disseminate evidence-based information and research via social media. We can engage nurses in the community as experts. We can help individuals identify misinformation through checking sources and using fact-checking websites. We can also be empathic and listen to the reasons for vaccine hesitancy and resistance and recognize that, ultimately, individuals need to make their own decisions. The general public looks to nurses as health care leaders in their communities: through receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and educating others on why they should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we can lead the way to a safer return to a new normal.


Mary Alexander




1. Katella K. Comparing the COVID-19 vaccines: how are they different? Yale Medicine. Published February 24, 2021. Updated December 10, 2021. Accessed December 15, 2021.[Context Link]


2. Merriam-Webster. Misinformation. Accessed December 15, 2021.[Context Link]


3. Merriam-Webster. Disinformation. Accessed December 15, 2021.[Context Link]


4. American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Hear us out campaign. Accessed December 15, 2021.[Context Link]


5. National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Policy brief: clinical experiences for unvaccinated nursing students. Published September 28, 2021. Accessed December 15, 2021.[Context Link]


6. National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Policy statement: dissemination of non-scientific and misleading covid-19 information by nurses. Published November 16, 2021. Accessed December 15, 2021.[Context Link]