Nurses, Vaccine Hesitancy, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

University of Washington Special Collections “Pioneering Medicine” exhibit, 2016

Nurses are the most trusted healthcare professionals in our country. Nurses are the largest component of the healthcare system here in the United States and worldwide. Nurses have an enormous ethical responsibility to keep up to date on and apply evidence-based practice in their work and in their personal lives.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) recently released results of a study from October, 2020 showing that only thirty-four percent of nurse members surveyed said they were willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it is approved for use. Seventy percent of nurses reported that they had mistrust in the COVID-19 vaccine approval process, and sixty-three percent said their main source of information about the vaccine was from mainstream media. (source: American Nurses Foundation, Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses COVID-19 Survey Series: COVID-19 Vaccine, October 2020.) With the first COVID-19 vaccine due to be released for nurses and other frontline workers as early as next month, clearly, we have a problem.

We all need to work to repair the erosion of respect and trust in our public health system, including vaccine research, development, and safe, equitable distribution. Nurses can and should be at the forefront of that work and should be included on President-Elect Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board.

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