Thursday, October 30, 2014

Demand More Than a Paper Mask

My Facebook newsfeed is inundated with Ebola panic.  I am a nurse, so many of my Facebook friends are also nurses, or have various healthcare roles.  I have never before seen this many nurses be this upset about an infectious disease.  So I would like to ask everyone who is panicking about Ebola a few questions.

-If there was a thoroughly tested Ebola vaccine, would you get it right now?

-If the hospital you worked for required you to get this Ebola vaccine during this Ebola season, would you refuse?

-If you did in fact refuse, how would you feel if the hospital you worked for required you to wear a paper mask in lieu of the vaccine?

-If you were the coworker (or more importantly the patient) of a nurse refusing the vaccine and choosing to wear the mask, would you feel a simple paper mask was sufficient to prevent the spread of Ebola?

-Would you be upset if they pulled the mask down to cough or sneeze? Would you be upset if they removed the mask while in the break room, or on their way to the cafeteria to grab some lunch?

-Assume you are a patient and your nurse walks into your room wearing a mask.   You ask why they are wearing a mask and they responded that they were required to because they refused the Ebola vaccine.  When you voice some concern, they say "Oh, it's just Ebola."  How would that make you feel?

-Would you be concerned if your unvaccinated nurse previously cared for a patient with Ebola, and then came to work not feeling so well and then cared for you?

How would that make you feel, if you knew nurses refusing a vaccine for a disease that takes anywhere from 3,000 to 48,000 lives a year in this country? But wait a minute.... Ebola doesn't claim thousands of lives in the United States, nor is there a vaccine available for the public.

But influenza has been documented to kill thousands in a season. Yet, while there are vaccines to prevent transmission, people, even nurses, still refuse to get their annual flu shot.

Think about that for a moment.  

Although not gloriously paraded around social media at the moment, influenza can kill up to 50,000 Americans each year.  Be alarmed!  Influenza is more contagious than Ebola.  But guess what?  We can prevent some of those cases and save some of those lives by vaccinating ourselves and our patients.

Ebola has killed one person who traveled to the United States.  It has no vaccine.  It has killed approximately 4,000 worldwide.  If you are upset about Ebola, that's normal and understandable.  But you should also be upset about influenza, measles, and pertussis, amongst others.

Infectious diseases should upset nurses.  Preventable infectious diseases that are being spread due to vaccine refusal should really upset nurses.  Seeing colleagues willingly refuse their influenza vaccines based on misinformation should really really upset pro-science nurses.

Protect your patients.  Demand preparation.  Demand those you work with to join you in protecting the patients, each other and your community.  Get your flu vaccine!

"Ebola is very scary. But people in the United States are frightened of Ebola for statistically very little good reason. It's fear disproportionate to the risk. Influenza has far too little fear based on the risk. It's fascinating to me to see social media panic and listen to people worried about Ebola who have never had an influenza vaccine, where statistically the thing you will get this year is influenza. You'll probably do yourself and those around you the most good by getting a flu shot." - David Cennimo, infectious disease physician/assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.





Nurses Who Vaccinate member Margaret Smith is a Registered Nurse from Sacramento, California.  She is currently working in Gastroenterology and Quality Management, but her primary background is in Emergency nursing.  Margaret holds a Bachelors of Science from Grove City College, and studied nursing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She is currently pursuing her BSN and MSN.  Margaret became passionate about vaccine promotion after having her first child, when she became aware of the anti-vaccine movement and local parents choosing not to vaccinate.  She has a husband, two daughters, a dog, and two cats, all fully vaccinated.  ;)  Her one wish is that nurses and healthcare professionals everywhere would understand and accept evidenced based practice and educate their patients accordingly.















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