Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When Nurses Who Vaccinate Comes Under Attack

A picture is worth a thousand words. And apparently a meme is worth hundreds of new followers, members, comments, and shares. It can also draw attention from opposing viewpoints and lead them to attack, bully and threaten the creators of memes.

Over a meme you ask? Well it was actually a graphic, that has mistakenly been referred to as a meme (but that’s a whole other discussion).

The above graphic generated a popular response on the Nurses Who Vaccinate Facebook page. With over 200 shares, it was seen by over 25,000 people according to Facebook insights. Not too shabby for a picture made at 2am in Microsoft paint.

The graphic was calling attention to an organization that has been making the rounds on the internet spreading public health misinformation and vaccine myths. With the internet as vast and unregulated as it is, patients have a hard enough time deciphering accurate sources for health information. We as nurses, should not be adding to the confusion. Nurses should be presenting evidence-based information to our patients and the public. 

The organization in mention, Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines, sadly does exist and is not a satire joke. They claim quite often that they are not ‘anti-vaccine’ and but are ‘anti-forced vaccines.’ But, a quick look at their facebook page and website quickly shows how misinformed and untrue those statements are. They post links from conspiracy sites, such as the infamous Natural News and Mercola, claim CDC studies are part of a conspiracy and continously post misinformation about side effects from vaccines. Recently a meta-analysis reviewed 166 independent studies and confirmed what we at Nurses Who Vaccinate have been saying since 2011, vaccines are safe and effective! But, was that important study shared on any of the NAMV social media platforms? Nope. Instead, what do you find on their facebook page?

Let’s quickly discuss the difference between mandatory, compulsory and forced vaccination. Currently the only policies in place in some health institutions concerning influenza vaccines are mandatory vaccine policies. What does mandatory mean? It means that unless you have a legitimate medical exemption you are required to meet standards of vaccination. In some institutions the alternative is that you have to wear a mask from the moment you enter the workplace till the moment you leave. Some health institutions have taken a stricter approach and if an employee refuses to vaccinate the institution will terminate them. Enforcing mandatory vaccine policies is not an infringement of the employees right because while workers have a right to non-discrimination in workplace, employers have a right to instill rules for workers to abide by. An important point is that employment in the U.S., with narrow exceptions, is at will. Employers do not have to hire or retain you. They can't discriminate based on gender, race, or other protected categories, but other than that, they can pretty much hire you or not, and fire you, for any reason. And they can certainly set work safety conditions. Requiring personal protection equipment to be worn and used, proper techniques to be used and staying up-to-date with vaccines are part of those safety conditions. Compulsory vaccination is when fines or imprisonment is implemented on those who refuse vaccines. Currently there are no mandates for compulsory vaccinations, and the most popular one that the public is familiar with is the Jacobson v. Massachusetts United States Supreme Court Case that is from 1905. With regards to forced vaccination, contrary to what Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines likes to post, no health institution, public health organization or member of Nurses Who Vaccinate advocate for forced vaccination of a healthcare worker. Forced vaccination would be a scenario where one holds down a worker and forcibly administering a vaccine, a situation that is unheard of and is only being used by NAMV to create fear in those who misunderstand the differences between mandatory and forced. There are no employers that have forced vaccinations on their workers. Mandate, yes. Forced, no.

Now that that is out of the way, back to the picture/graphic. Nurses Who Vaccinate stands by the message in the graphic. Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines is an anti-vaccine, anti-science organization that promotes vaccine misinformation. It is disdainful to see the nursing profession misrepresented by these individuals who reject the need for vaccines and deny the scientific evidence that vaccines are safe and effective. However, we here at Nurses Who Vaccinate are proponents of education and I personally know how convincing that misinformation can be. I was once misled by the anti-vaccine websites and came quite close to basing my medical decisions on it. We highly encourage the members of NAMV to use better sources for their stances, and take additional classes and courses to expand their limited knowledge on this topic.
Immunization Courses: Broadcasts, Webcasts, and Self Study
Current Issues in Immunization NetConference (CIINC)

Nurses Who Vaccinate is not interested in ‘attacking’ another nursing page. We have more important matters that take up our time and interests. For example, the fact that every 20 seconds a child is dying from a vaccine preventable disease. Or that here in the US, we have concerning pertussis and measles outbreaks popping up in communities with low immunization rates. In spite of these clear threats to our communities and our patients, NAMV chooses to focus on the imaginary threat of our little picture, and even to the point of suggesting legal action against us.

Perhaps a quick rundown of the definition of fair use would be handy... Section 107 of the Copyright Act states:
"..the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." Source: 17 USC Section 107.

Looking for more information, here’s a convenient crash course! We are blatantly criticizing and commenting on the status of the NAMV organization. It’s quite obvious and many of our members and supporters recognize that. And we thank you. Especially when we have organizations looking to bully and intimidate us when we call them out on dangerous behavior. When NAMV does little to discourage their followers from harassing and posting inflammatory posts and comments about our members and pro-science healthcare workers, it's easy to see what type of organization they are. It seems that while they claim to be under attack, they're to ones leading the efforts.

In the meantime, we’ve jump started our IndieGoGo campaign to become an official not-for-profit organization. Where will the donated funds go? Well, we have big plans. We’re currently working with a non-profit clinic here in New York to apply for our 501(3)(c). We’re looking to create a FREE nursing educational database for our members and supporters to use when researching public health information. We have plans to create a mobile device app specifically for nurses to help educate patient about vaccines, schedules and vaccine-preventable diseases. And there are many other projects we’re looking into. Intrigued? Want to get more involved? Send us an email at and let us know what you would like to be involved with or if you have an idea for a project! And if push comes to shove and if NAMV follow on through with their bullying tactics, than funds will go towards protecting the Nurses Who Vaccinate organization and our members. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that and we can use the supporting funds towards more important issues. Like saving lives.

Nurses Who Vaccinate are nurses who care about themselves, patients and communities.
Are you a pro-science nurse? Supporter of evidence-based nurses?
Become a member-

Friday, May 16, 2014

Crossing the Border... to Save Lives

We’re going over the border for meningococcal disease protection . . . and in honor of our daughters.

As you may know, the United States does not currently offer protection from meningococcal disease serogroup B.  Serogroup B is responsible for the recent outbreaks at Princeton University and The University of California, Santa Barbara. Bexsero, a meningitis B vaccine, was approved in 2013 in Europe, Australia and Canada. The FDA allowed Bexsero on an “Investigational New Drug Application” in an effort to control the outbreaks at these two U.S. universities.  I applaud their action, but what about the rest of the United States citizens?

A fellow mother and friend, Alicia Stillman from Michigan, who also lost her teenage daughter to meningococcal disease serogroup B, has started the Emily Stillman Foundation in loving memory of her 19-year-old daughter, Emily Stillman.

The Emily Stillman Foundation has organized the “Get Vaccinated Windsor Project” which will be taking place this Sunday May 18, 2014.  A bus will transport 50 U.S. participants (children and adults) from Michigan to Ontario, Canada in order to be protected from Meningitis B.  A Canadian doctor and his staff will administer the vaccine in Windsor after performing an exam and a full medical history on all participants.

For more information on the trip please see NBC's article.

The vaccines Menactra, Menomume, and Menveo protect against the A,C,W, and Y serogroups in the U.S.  Both of our daughters were vaccinated with Menactra, but unfortunately, this offered no protection from Meningitis B.

While the two girls were fully immunized according to the current vaccine recommendations, many others are not up-to-date, with the other meningitis vaccines available. According to a recent study shared in the Wall Street Journal, "Two in three mothers are not aware of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations to prevent meningococcal meningitis infection, which include vaccinating children twice."

As National Meningitis Associations members, these mothers are committed to sharing their child's story so that other families have an opportunity to make informed decisions about immunization. They also want to help others gain a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and its potential consequences, in accordance with the NMA mission. NMA’s volunteers help carry out our mission by creating and conducting community awareness and education programs, including presentations, media outreach and other activities that reach families, students, community leaders and public health officials.

Instead of celebrating my daughter’s prom and high school graduation in 2012, I planned her funeral three days before she was to graduate from high school and buried her in her beautiful prom dress.  Kimberly Coffey was 17 years old and was to start the Nursing Program at a local college in New York to pursue her dream of being a pediatric nurse.

Patti Wukovits, RN, Nurses Who Vaccinate Member

Patti Wukovits has been a nurse for 8 years. She is a certified oncology nurse and a M.O.M. (Mom on Meningitis) with the National Meningitis Association.  Married with 4 children (one son, angel daughter Kim, a stepson and a stepdaughter).  Her mission is to spread awareness of meningococcal disease - to be the voice for her daughter Kim.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy International Nurses Day!

On Monday, May 12, a free webinar on the role of nurses in vaccination decision-making will be held in Paris to mark International Nurses DayThe line-up of speakers includes experts from the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation in the US; the Mother & Baby Clinic Group in South Africa; and Melody Butler of Nurses Who Vaccinate from the US

The International Council of Nurses in collaboration with Connecting Nurses is hosting a FREE live Webcast on Monday, May 12th at 9:30 AM CET (3am EDT) to talk about the “Nurses’ key role in prevention, education, and therapy."

A second Live Webcast will start at 3:00 PM (CET  9am EDT) about “The key role of nurses in vaccination decision-making."  Nurses Who Vaccinate founder, Melody Butler, is a keynote speaker in the second presentation, and will be discussing the organization she initiated, Nurses Who Vaccinate, The

CASE Method, and the role of nurses in social media. The webcast, will be broadcasted live internationally for nurses all over the world to view and ask questions. We am quite excited about this opportunity and would like to share this event with you. Tell them we sent you!

Access to the webcast in the different languages

EN :



Thursday, May 8, 2014

During this Nurses Week We Remember...

Today during National Nurses Week, we would like to remember the nurses who gave their all- to care and protect their patients- and the nurses who paid the ultimate price in service. We'll also provide important information for nurses to utilize to protect themselves and each other.

We remember Gail Sandidge, a nurse in the Ambulatory Surgery Center of Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Texas, who was killed November 26, 2013, after a fatal stabbing attack. Steve Altmiller, head of Good Shepherd Health Systems, said Sandidge had died trying to protect her patients. She was in the midst of caring for pre-surgical pediatric patients, when she confronted the killer. "Nurses are protectors by nature. And Gail, she fit that profile,” he said. "She was protecting her patients in an act of courage today, and in so doing, she lost her life."
Gail Sandidge & Patient

He also said Sandidge had worked with the hospital for close to 20 years and described her as "a huge Baylor fan, a mother, a grandmother, a healer, a trainer, a mentor, a nurturer." has put together a tribute to Mrs. Sandidge with pictures provided by her family. Among them include this photo, taken that very morning, of Nurse Gail and a patient she would later selflessly defend.

Haye dispensary showing
abandoned polio vaccine kits
We remember the many dedicated nurses and workers working endlessly to protect children from the threat of polio. Many have lost their lives in terrorists acts. Deaths had occurred as recent as last week, where three workers in Afghanistan were murdered and a nurse injured. The campaign of violence against the humanitarian workers has stretched to Pakistan, and threatens the polio vaccination initiatives. Nursingworld Nigeria powerfully states, "as we look back together, towards moving forward in the interest of the profession and nurses, we particularly call for an end to the state of insecurity that is sweeping through parts of the country threatening lives particularly nurses. We painfully remember  Jamila yusuf, whom was killed in the line of duty as a polio vaccinator on February 8, 2013 along with 10 other polio workers."

We remember the many nurses who have been injured while on duty. The two nurses in California, injured in April, stabbed as they were working.  The five nurses seriously at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital after a patient began kicking and punching staff as he wandered through corridors. The nurse who required brain surgery in February after being brutally attacked by a patient while on duty at a Brooklyn Hospital. The countless others who didn't make the headlines.

According to an article in the New York Times, "nursing ranks among the worst occupations in terms of work-related injuries." This week, and every week, be sure to spend time to take care of yourself. Nursing is a rewarding profession, but if you're not mentally or physically prepared, you may end up a patient yourself.

Information for Nurses to Protect Themselves

How nurses can care for themselves

Caring for Those Who Care: A Tribute to Nurses and Their Safety

Check out this important video, featured on, that takes a wholehearted look at why the most important thing for a nurse is to take care of him/herself first — a message that is vitally important as nurses spend their lives caring for others, often at the expense of their own emotional and physical health.

Health Promotion in Nurses: Is There a Healthy Nurse in the House?

How nurses can nourish themselves through shift work hours

Nurses Can Still Take Care of Self While Caring for Patients

Monday, May 5, 2014

It’s National Nurses Week 2014!

During National Nurses Week, Nurses Who Vaccinate would like to extend a special thanks to you, our nurses, as you continue to step forward in embracing new technologies, resolving emerging issues, and adapting to the changing roles in your profession. You deserve special recognition for your efforts in leading the way for your patients, your colleagues, and organizations within the health care industry.

From Tuesday May 6, 2014 until Monday May 12, 2014, the entire nation comes together to shed light on the importance, dedication, hardwork and passion which more than 3.1 million nurses bring to healthcare in America. Since 1954, The American Nurses Association (ANA) has hosted Nurse’s Week celebrations, choosing to end the week on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Nurse’s Week celebrations at hospitals often include free lunches, pampering sessions with massages and manicures, and educational opportunities for nurses to continually expand their knowledge base. The ANA posts an annual statement with suggestions on how nurses can choose to celebrate Nurse’s Week. The first item on their list is advocacy.

Nurses are empowered every day to advocate for their patients and their families, but during Nurse’s Week, we have a unique position in the national spotlight to spark conversation about important public health issues. One of the most important things we can do as nurses to support public health and honor the ANA initiative towards advocacy is to support vaccinations.

Vaccines are perhaps the single most important facet of public health as they prevent painful sickness and death for millions of people every day. As world travel increases, diseases which were once endemic in the far corners of the world can now land right in our backyards in a matter of days. Vaccines are not only important but are necessary in maintaining a healthy nation and a healthy world.

Being a member of Nurses Who Vaccinate is an important first step in supporting public health and vaccinations, but there are many more ways in which nurses can promote public health and wellness. Nurses who provide direct bedside care can support vaccinations and public health each and every day by talking to patients and their families about vaccines and explaining the importance of protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Student nurses, registered nurses and any supporters of healthcare can also get involved in public health initiatives by talking to local politicians and asking them to support any bills which promote vaccinations. Writing to a local newspaper and asking them to highlight the important role nurses play in public health by supporting vaccinations can educate the public on the important work nurses do each and every day in preventing public health outbreaks and promoting community health wellness.

Recognize that your role as a nurse isn’t just at the bedside, but that each and every one of us is a community health nurse responsible for the health of our nation! Support public health through vaccine promotion each and every day, but especially during Nurse’s Week!

Happy Nurse’s Week, nurses! Thank you for all of the important work you do!


Be sure to follow the International Council of Nurses for 2014 Live webcast: the key role of nurses in vaccination decision making, on May 12th with Nurses Who Vaccinate - hosted by Connecting Nurses.
Official link 

Angela Quinn is a registered nurse in New York City. She is passionate about public health, patient safety and patient education. Angela volunteers with organizations like Nurses who Vaccinate  to contribute positively to the world of nursing.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Can Healthcare Providers Stop the "Invisible Threat?"

In an effort to draw attention to the national launch of the Invisible Threat movement on May 1st,  Nurses Who Vaccinate is participating in a Blog Relay. Each day a different blogger will be discussing their personal perspective of the film as part of our 10-day countdown to a kick-off event with national legislators at the Capitol Visitors’ Center in Washington, DC.  Visit the Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page for links to each blog post and visit the Every Child By Two website to find out how you can join us this movement, arrange for a local screening, and continue our fight against infectious diseases.

Along with diagnosing and treating patients, healthcare providers have an additional role- educating. When you're a public health advocate, your patient will not always be the sick child in the waiting room or an elderly gentleman admitted to the telemetry floor- your patient will include the general public and will involve people diffused throughout the spectrum of health. From teenagers to teachers, from parents to politicians, public health professionals need to work hard to educate all members of their communities about the current health topics, safety issues and prevention. 

One population frequently overlooked are politicians. We cannot assume that the ones responsible for legislation of health and safety initiatives are up-to-date with the current medical information that we healthcare providers have. It is obvious that legislation is responsible for shaping the healthcare policies in this country. Seatbelt laws, smoking age restrictions and the Affordable Care Act are among the many examples of politicians playing a role in public healthcare. It's our responsibility as healthcare professionals to make sure that we are focusing efforts to keep our legislators accurately informed about important health issues.

Take the topic of immunizations. Like the public, politicians can fall victim to vaccine misinformation and vote accordingly and negatively influence the public. We need to step in and educate before these mishaps occur. 
According to Sheila Abood, PhD, RN:
"Nurses are in a unique position to share their expertise and knowledge when meeting with power players to educate them, to urge them to action, and to hold them accountable when their positions and voting records don’t match their rhetoric. Nurses, as providers and consumers of healthcare services, have professional and personal experiences regarding the problems and possible solutions to share with policy decision makers. It is expert power that allows nurses to bring their knowledge of nursing, healthcare, and patient safety to bear directly on the promotion and achievement of their policy goals."

How can we educate politicians effectively and efficiently? By bringing the information to them. Health organizations such as Every Child By Two and Voices for Vaccines, have taken an active role in educating our legislators. An important upcoming event involving the documentary Invisible Threat is a great example of public health advocates taking a pro-active approach to spreading the word about the importance of vaccinating. ECBT personally invited Members of Congress to the national launch of the Invisible Threat movement on May 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Following the film, they will host a panel discussion with leading experts in the field of immunizations to discuss how the resurgence of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases can affect communities and how to help combat the spread of dangerous misinformation about vaccines. 

What is Invisible Threat? ECBT explains, "The Invisible Threat film focuses on understanding the science of vaccination and the misperceptions leading parents to delay or decline life-saving immunizations. This 40-minute independent documentary, produced by award-winning high school student filmmakers, has earned praise from more than 50 organizations, including the CDC, AAP, Texas Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins." You can view the trailer here.

Healthcare professionals such as Doctor Paul Offit from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania has publicly endorsed and encouraged the public to view the documentary. Medical organizations all over the nation are wowed by this powerful, student driven documentary and they want EVERYONE to see it.

The efforts don't stop with ECBT and the organizations supporting the national screening. The next step falls to you, the healthcare professional. We need you to take a moment to contact your key legislators (Phone numbers and email addresses for Members of Congresson the invitation list to ask them and their staff to attend the Invisible Threat film screening and expert panel on May 1st at 10 a.m. Let them know that this event is important to you because deadly vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, meningitis, pertussis and influenza continue to threaten your community

How else can you make a difference? 

  • Hospitals (general or children’s)
  • Elementary, middle and high schools (a sample curriculum is available at
  • Elementary schools
  • School nurses
  • Colleges and universities
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) chapters
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) chapters
  • Immunization coalitions (search
  • Film interest clubs
  • Parenting groups, such as Mommy and Me or Gymboree classes
  • Pediatrician Offices
  • OB-GYN Offices
  • Prenatal classes

3. Get involved with the Invisible Threat Community via social media!
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Follow and catch up with the organizations supporting Invisible Threat Blog Relay

By working together and educating each other, healthcare professionals and politicians can team up to protect children from vaccine-preventable disease and win the fight against deadly misinformation.

***Join us for an Invisible Threat Twitter Chat, Wednesday, 4/30 from 7-8pm ET.***

With The Invisible Threat student documentary officially launching date on May 1 at the Capitol Visitor Center, you can show your support for the students by joining the Invisible Threat Twitter Chat, Wednesday, 4/30 from 7-8 pm ET.  

Not only will you have the opportunity to ask the filmmakers questions about the project but we encourage you to also share your favorite resources that address vaccine hesitancy.

Just follow #InvisibleThreat and please share with your networks.

***Follow along with TwitterChat!***


Abood, S. (January 31, 2007). "Influencing Health Care in the Legislative Arena". OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 12 No. 1, Manuscript 2.

Additional information and materials can be found here.

Please send your support to these students and for Invisible Threat! Read, personalize, and send this email to the the student filmmakers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview with Outbreak News/ The Global Dispatch

In a recent episode of Outbreak News on The Global Dispatch, founder of Nurses Who Vaccinate, Melody Butler, RN, was interviewed by Robert Herriman. She spoke about the need for pro-vaccine nurses to speak up, why she formed the organization, how to handle vaccine hesitant parents and her views on Jenny McCarthy.

Check out the Global Dispatch website for more information!