Friday, March 15, 2019

Nurses Who Vaccinate at the February 2019 ACIP Meeting

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of 21 individuals permitted to make a public comment to address the committee. Of those commenters, myself and one other - Alison Singer, co-founder of the Autism Science Foundation - were the only voices in support of vaccination. I’d like to share the overall impact that the meeting had for me.

What struck me first was the data presented. To reference one of my favorite 80’s songs, they blinded me with science! Even though I lost sleep stressing over my statistics classes and nursing research classes while in college, it was clear that without an understanding of statistics, study design and medical ethics, much of the scientific data presented may not have made sense or could be easily misinterpreted. Each working group focused on a particular vaccine – Japanese encephalitis, Anthrax, the new Hexavalent vaccine (TDaP, HepB, Polio and HiB combo), meningococcal group B, etc. After the working group presented the data and their suggestions for any revisions to current recommendations based on that data, the remainder of the committee made comments and asked questions.

I also really appreciated the questions and comments as those remarks helped to clarify details in the data and verbiage of proposed changes to recommendations. Watching the process, it was clear that a tremendous amount of work goes into ensuring that the evidence for safety and efficacy is robust before making any changes to current recommendations.

The other major factor that made an impression on me was large contingent of anti-vaccine public speakers. The majority of these people were parents of children who were dealing with a variety of challenges including autism, auto-immune disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and more. It was clear to me that these people were in pain. The day-to-day challenges they faced raising children with special needs created stress and anxiety in their lives. I do not think that they are crazy. I think they are misguided. While the science has repeatedly shown no connection between these conditions and vaccines, they continue to channel their anger with their situation toward the only tangible demon they have – vaccination. While listening to them I heard many misinterpretations of science and the research process. They are angry and in pain and they want there to be a reason for the challenges that they and their children face.

As a mother myself, I can only sympathize with that. When unfortunate events happen we want to know why. What was the most disappointing to me were the four medical professionals among their group (one physician, one nurse practitioner and two registered nurses) who validated their inaccuracies by means of their credentials. 
Because of rogue medical professionals, these parents feel justified in blaming vaccination even though the evidence says otherwise. This brings me to my own statement before the committee.

Lori Boyle, RN, providing a pro-science, evidence based statement at February 2019 ACIP Meeting in Atlanta, GA.

My statement focused on the trust that the people of the United States have bestowed upon the profession of nursing as a whole. As the guardians of that trust, nurses have an obligation to adhere to evidence based practice. Anything short of that is a betrayal of that trust. I urged any nurses listening to remember their role as servants to the public and to adhere to evidence based practice and to join Nurses Who Vaccinate.

While there I had the opportunity to meet and speak with other advocates of evidence-based practice including members of the Immunization Action Coalition, Dr. Paul Offit Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Karen Ernst founder of Voices for Vaccines, Dorit Reiss Rubinstein law professor at UC Hastings, Amy Pisani, Director of Vaccinate Your Family and a lovely docent at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum at CDC Headquarters who gave me a tour.

The whole experience was invaluable to me and I hope to be able to attend the meeting again in the future to remind both the ACIP and the public of Nurses Who Vaccinate and our devotion to the health and well being of the public that we serve.
Lori Boyle's Full Statement

My name is Lori. I am a mother of two fully vaccinated successful young adults and a registered nurse of 21 years, the last five of those as an advanced practice nurse. I am here today representing the organization Nurses Who Vaccinate. We are a grassroots organization that works to provide up to date accurate, science based information to the public and to our fellow health care workers regarding vaccination. I first became aware of misinformation regarding vaccination as I entered grad school at Rutgers. There I received a strong foundation in evidence based practice that has stayed with me to this day. It was disheartening to see so many people, including nurses, fall prey to sensationalist headlines and misinformation while I was learning to research and evaluate, evidence based medicine. I found Nurses Who Vaccinate while in grad school and through them found a way to share those critical thinking skills I was acquiring.  
My first job as an APN was with the largest infectious disease practice in the North East. While in that practice the need for sharing evidence based information on vaccines was reinforced. I saw young otherwise healthy college students in the ICU with flu, countless people with pneumococcal disease, people at risk of losing limbs due to meningococcal disease. Imagine my disbelief after caring for those people, then encountering nurses who refused the flu shot, or advised others against vaccinating based on misinformation?  
Nurses are the number one most trusted profession in the United States for 17 years straight. We have a duty and an obligation to adhere to evidence based practice. Anything short of that is a betrayal of the trust granted to us by the people of this country and diminishes the credibility of the profession as a whole. Nursing as a community has the ability to make a difference in this current climate of distrust that many of the public have with the medical establishment. The majority of us know the importance of adhering to evidence based practice. We understand that the vast preponderance of evidence world wide is in favor of vaccines as the safest, most effective means of preventing the diseases which they target. We can provide evidence based education to the public and our fellow healthcare workers to ease their concerns about misinformation that spreads like wildfire across social media.  
I urge my fellow nurses to join me in this endeavor to keep people healthy, reduce the spread of preventable diseases and become Nurses Who Vaccinate. 
I’d like to thank the Committee for their tireless hard work and dedication to the health and well being of people of the United States and for allowing me this moment to speak. Thank you.


Lori has been in nursing for more than 20 years. While in graduate school, she became aware of how many people were misunderstanding the science of vaccination and falling for misinformation. Since that time she has made it her mission to help people understand that the value and safety of vaccination as recommended, far outweighs the risks. In addition to Nurses Who Vaccinate she is also a member of Voices for Vaccines and the NJ Immunization Network.