Thursday, February 5, 2015

Guest Blog: Patients Should Speak Up, and Speak Out, About Anti-Vaccine Nurses

Vaccines are safe and save lives.

That is the determination of decades of research into and development of vaccines. Vaccines are considered by the vast majority of people to be one of the, if not THE, most important medical breakthrough during the last century. Billions of cases of disease have been prevented, millions of lives have been saved, and incalculable misery has been avoided, all because of vaccines. Say it aloud- Vaccines are one of the most successful public health initiatives EVER.

"Vaccines save tens of thousands of children every year. Vaccination has eliminated or reduced a wide range of once-common diseases in the U.S. [and everywhere else]. Without current vaccines, approximately 42,000 of the 4.1 million children born in the U.S. in 2009 would die early deaths. For that same group of kids, researchers estimate that vaccines have prevented and will prevent 20 million cases of disease." - Kevin Loria, Business Insider

That’s why when I see a nurse or other health care worker spouting anti-vaccine propaganda and lies, I question their ability to adequately care for me or for other patients. And I question why they are working in a science-related field at all.

Recently, I’ve seen a small but extremely vocal movement of nurses and other health care workers who are openly rejecting science and research by advocating against vaccines. These so-called professionals are taking pride in making statements that are the antithesis of hundreds of thousands of studies, conducted by experts, monitoring the efficacy, effectiveness, and safety of vaccines. It’s troubling to me that health care workers would dismiss science in favor of unproven nonsense.

Many of these health care workers repeat and spread misinformation regarding vaccines, such as the lie “vaccines didn’t reduce disease” (yes, they did) or “vaccines are more dangerous than diseases” (no, they are not).  Most troubling of all, it’s not uncommon for anti-vaccine and anti-science health care workers to reject even germ theory, claiming that germs do not cause disease. How can someone whose job it is to care for people who are physically vulnerable reject the very basis of their field?

These anti-science health care workers place their patients and their communities at risk through their actions and through their beliefs. As a past patient, I would not want such a person caring for me, a loved one, or indeed anyone in a health care setting.  Health care clinics and hospitals should not allow their employees to threaten the physical health of their patients through rejection of proven science. The existence of such employees undermines the trust that patients should have in their health care providers.

Nurses Who Vaccinate member Allison Hagood is the co-author of “Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives."

Click here to join the Nurses Who Vaccinate movement. Speak up.

Nurses Who Vaccinate is a non-profit and relies on donations from people like you to further our cause. No amount is too small.

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