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-


  1. Only 10 bucks, but donated to the campaign! Best of luck and keep up the good work.

    Cheers, Mike

  2. Thank you for the support!

    -Melody Butler, RN

  3. You are, of course, right about the doctrine of fair use in the context of copyright law as applied to commentary or parody. But NAMV appears to be complaining about "illegal [use]" of their "trademarked logo", which is a different matter. Don't get me wrong: as best I can tell their complaint is silly and groundless either way. But the statement about trademark is even sillier than one about copyright, since it's doubtful any court would find that there is a likelihood of confusion between your two groups based on your use of their logo.

  4. Well stated. A thorough takedown of the lies and disinformation perpetuated by NAMV. It is sad that such an organization is allowed to continue to place vulnerable people at risk due to the deluded belief system of the vaccine denialist cult.

  5. Fantastic blog! While searching for nursing pages to follow on FB, I came across the awful page, NAMV. After engaging with their members and getting blocked, I came to find Nurses Who Vaccinate and was thrilled to find an organization publicly supporting science and vaccines. I'm proud to be a member of NWV!

  6. Fantastic blog! I was once searching for nursing pages to follow on FB and I came across NAMV. I asked innocent questions and was attacked and then blocked from their page. Needless to say, I was appalled to see health care professionals supporting any kind of anti-vaccine agenda, whether they felt it was justified or not. I was especially turned off by their willingness to forgo the flu shot, one of the simplest things we as healthcare professionals can do to protect our patients. Thanks to that awful interaction, I searched for provaccine websites, an action which felt oxymoronic, and found Nurses who Vaccinate. I'm so proud to be a member of NWV!

  7. One can only hope that NAMV does take action. Streisand effect anyone?

  8. Ezekiel (Easy-kill) 13:17-23 God says you die