The COVID-19 pandemic revealed many flaws in humanity, the healthcare system, and the ways that people deal with grief or perceive information. One of the most prominent topics surrounding the discussion is vaccine hesitancy. Despite the wide availability of vaccines from various manufacturers that have now been fully approved by the FDA, nearly half of all Americans are not vaccinated, citing various reasons to avoid it. The situation is similar around the world, some countries being more or less successful in increasing vaccinations. The article by Lavigne (2021) deeply explores some of the root causes, beliefs, and intended solutions for the vaccine hesitancy crisis. The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the article’s insights and provide one’s own perspectives and research to explore the topic of vaccinations, particularly vaccine hesitancy.
Important for Nursing
Vaccination is a critically important topic for nursing. Nurses work with a variety of patients on the frontline, making them highly susceptible to disease and exposure to infectious diseases. Nurses need regular vaccinations themselves for protection. Nurses also care for the well-being of their patients and public health. Based on evidence-based care, vaccines are an effective and safe method of reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Nurses often find themselves educating and advocating for patients on vaccines, encouraging them to receive the shot. Nurses are usually the staff that administers vaccinations as well, and with a shortage of healthcare providers, nurses are taking on more work and responsibility surrounding vaccine administration (Deering, 2021). Vaccine hesitancy has touched the profession. A surprising number of nurses remain vaccine-hesitant, which puts the whole frontline staff at risk as there is a higher risk of infection if there is no collective protection within the bubble of the workplace. In regard to patients, vaccine hesitancy is also prevalent, leading to outbreaks and even death of vaccine-hesitant patients or those vulnerable around them. Too many nurses, it is frustrating that not enough measures are being taken to advance the vaccinations that could easily save so many lives.
Suggestions Made in Article
In the editorial, Lavigne (2021) offers a few suggestions to attempt to decrease vaccine hesitancy. First, she encourages medical professionals to use social media to educate the public about the benefits of vaccination for global health. While doing so, it is suggested that there should be a strong emphasis that vaccines are rooted in science rather than political decisions. Third, the use of famous people, celebrities, and respected individuals as examples of those role models that support the vaccine may be effective. Next, the safety of vaccines should be reiterated, citing data and publications from both government and national medical associations. It is important to explain the complex and rigorous vaccine development and testing process prior to its widespread availability to the public. Finally, as a medical professional, one should ask clients about any concerns and attempt to answer them in an objective scientific manner (Lavigne, 2021).
As a personal example, when the COVID-19 vaccination was first made available to the public, I wanted to get vaccinated. However, many in my family and social circle were reluctant. So I began reading and watching some of the material that they had shared that had them nervous about getting the vaccine, trying to understand the reasoning so I could be an advocate and convince them otherwise. However, after some time, despite realizing that half the things I was reading were absurd and made no logical sense, I found myself wondering if I should get the vaccine. For a while, I was in a constant state, “what if…” the conspiracies are true.
While patient autonomy and healthcare decisions are a personal matter, I would argue that the only means to achieve healthy levels of vaccinations is to make them mandatory. It is potentially not the best or most effective solution, but given the status quo, it seems the most ethical ironically. As described in the article, it is not even a matter of education but the level of trust (Lavigne, 2021). However, the large majority of those who are vaccine-hesitant, they are willing to find new ways to mistrust. Given the tremendous amount of misinformation on the internet, the mistrust will simply keep increasing. Vaccine mandates will meet backlash, but they are legal, and most will comply. Once people see that after mandatory vaccinations, there are few to no extreme consequences, then they start mistrusting the misinformation and trusting authoritative sources.
The analysis of the findings suggests that vaccination remains a highly controversial and debatable topic with numerous perspectives. Despite the science being straightforward, it is not being accepted as such by many. There are many factors involved ranging from doubt to personal beliefs to mistrust. However, that level of mistrust seems to be growing exponentially, even among healthcare professionals. It becomes clear that there is no easy solution, and even multifaceted efforts of public education have little effect. Nevertheless, efforts should be made to understand those that remain vaccine-hesitant as they can provide answers on how to resolve this issue.
Deering, M. (2021). 10 facts about vaccinations and the role of nurses. NurseJournal. Web.
Lavigne S. E. (2021). Vaccine hesitancy: Root causes and possible solutions. Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene, 55(2), 79–82. Web.