Sunday, November 15, 2020

A NWV Nurse's First Hand Account of COVID Vaccine Trial

                I am a nurse, like many, working in the hospital during this pandemic. I see the weight nurses carry as we all continue to adapt to demands of hospital administration as we grapple with patient surges, short staffing, with no reprieve. As a strong supporter of immunizations and public health, active in volunteer groups such as Colorado Parents for Vaccinated Communities, the COVID vaccine is the only light I see at the end of the tunnel. When I saw the JANSSEN ENSEMBLE COVID vaccine trial needing volunteers, I became very interested in helping.

I never anticipated being a nurse in a pandemic. I never volunteered for a medical trial before the ENSEMBLE trial. But I have been working in the hospital during this entire pandemic, and thankfully, luckily, unbelievably almost, have not contracted COVID yet. Once I do, I would be ineligible for the study. I felt like I could not waste my health to miss this opportunity. I reached out via email, and had a health screening on the phone, followed by a pre consent phone appointment that lasted about an hour to ensure I understood my rights, the ethics and legalities of the study, as well as any risks. 

Next, I had an in person appointment in the clinic, where I had more consent discussions, nasal swabs, a pregnancy test, blood work, a physical exam, as well as training and education on the study process. It is a randomized, double blind study, so once it was determined that I was a candidate, I was randomized and the pharmacy made my injection, which had a 50/50 chance of being either placebo or the immunization. 

The next day, I felt crummy and woke up with a low grade fever, muscle aches, and soreness that improved toward the end of the day and resolved completely within 24 hours. I am hopeful this means I received the vaccine! I am in the study for the next two years, voluntarily and able to leave at any time. I have 5 visits in the first year, with 2 in the second year. I will be unblinded at the end, which could be sooner than 2 years. I have an app on my phone by IQVIA to monitor my symptoms and should I contract COVID, a home health agency is contracted with the researchers for extra support. Overall, it was a good experience and I am so glad that I was able to do it!

Elizabeth Brown lives in Colorado where she works as a charge nurse in Women’s Services and a clinical adjunct professor in nursing, while raising three children with her spouse, who is in the military. She is an advocate in all areas of her life- for her children, for her nursing students, for her patients, and for her fellow healthcare staff.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Petrificus Influenzus! #FightFlu

It’s that time of year again! Time for what you say? Time for Nurse Lori’s annual Flu Vaccine Meme! This year I am channeling my inner Professor McGonagall, that calm and wise mentor to young wizards and witches. 

Muggle Please!

We don’t need any fancy spells or incantations to protect ourselves and others from the flu. But we do need to follow some basic guidelines:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw it in the trash
after you use it and wash your hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not
available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs that can cause
respiratory illnesses like flu.
• For flu, CDC recommends that you (or your child) stay home for at least 24 hours after the
fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone
without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. The stay-at-home guidance for COVID-19 may be
• In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments or public health departments
may recommend additional precautions be taken in your community. Follow those instructions.
And most importantly, the best potion for protection is your annual Floo Shot!

This year as with the previous three years memes (Wonder Woman, Danaerys Targaryen and
Princess Leia), my goal is to be fun and engaging and use familiar and fun characters to remind
people to do what they can to protect themselves and others from this devastating illness.
This year was more important for me to vaccinate against flu than ever before. CoVid19 has put
added emphasis on the need for flu vaccine this year.

As an adult/geriatric nurse practitioner, I lost more patients than I want to think about to CoVid19. Influenza circulating in the community on top of CoVid19 has the potential to be disastrous. So, ensuring that I, and those I love, and patients I care for are protected against flu is some of the most important healthcare work that I do.

This has become a tradition for me now and I hope to keep it up for at least a few more years,
as long as I have ideas and costumes!

Do you have a vaccine selfie you want us to share? Email us at or tag us on social media! Find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook!

Lori Boyle, MSN, APN, CWS, WCC
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.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Even in a Pandemic, We Cannot Forget the Importance of Routine Immunization

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re focused on this one, novel infection. It’s almost as if time has stopped and we’ve forgotten about the many childhood diseases that, thanks to science, we can prevent! Is it just me, or does it feel like flu season was eons ago? But it’s our job to remember.

During the school year, I’m a substitute school nurse for kids from K-12. I was shocked in September when I started seeing flu cases in many of my students. Multiple kids were coming into my clinic in one day with fevers and malaise, and I’d find out that whole families were later diagnosed with flu. I felt awful for these kids missing so much school and the cases continued to rise throughout the season. In fact, many of my close friends and their kids ended up contracting influenza this season.
To my dismay, of those I asked who had contracted influenza, most hadn’t received their influenza vaccine. People either don’t see it as a priority, or they have fears based on the massive amount of misinformation available online.

For years I worked in pediatric hospitals and one sound I’ll never forget is an infant struggling to breathe with respiratory illnesses such as influenza and whooping cough. My heart would break for the babies as well as the parents because nothing is worse than watching your child suffer. I always worried for the children we had to transfer to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), knowing they may suffer long-term effects to their little lungs.

I know that we need to be concerned about more than influenza and whooping cough, too. Growing up, I never met anyone my age who experienced measles, whooping cough, mumps or any of the other vaccine-preventable illnesses that we’re starting to see reoccur today. I’m old enough to remember the torture that was chickenpox. I spent a good week bathing in calamine lotion and I still have the scars on my face to show for it. I’m actually looking forward to hitting the age where I can get the shingles vaccine!

Throughout this pandemic, we’re hearing stories of all sorts of vaccine trials but in actuality, a widely-available COVID-19 vaccine is likely years away. Experts are estimating that about 60%+ of the population will need to be infected before we can achieve herd immunity. Knowing this, you may be asking yourself if you even can bring your kids in for routine vaccinations.

I have an adorable 5-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. We’ve been fortunate enough since Florida’s safer-at-home order was implemented not to need to visit our pediatrician. We’re due for a well-check in the summer, and our doctor announced that they’re seeing routine/vaccine appointments in the mornings and sick visits in the afternoons. They’ve been great about keeping us updated on how they’re handling the pandemic. Because of their transparency, I trust that we have the ability to take the kids into their office if we do need to be there, even for routing exams and vaccinations. I encourage you to talk with your pediatrician to learn of their office hours and rules for seeing non-sick patients for routine visits.

In this scary, uncertain time, I can imagine that thinking about something as routine as childhood vaccinations may not feel like a priority. Just remember: What we’re going through right now with lockdowns, quarantines, and a lack of uncertainty, this is all due to just ONE novel disease in our community without herd immunity. Our lives have been changed, our kids aren’t going to school or having their normal play dates. And this is from just one disease where the community doesn’t have herd immunity. How much more awful and isolating would this experience be if COVID-19 been as contagious as measles? If this has taught me anything, it’s that we need to keep encouraging parents to keep their kids up to date on their shots. If you’re feeling powerless to protect your children right now, this is one small thing you can do to protect them and the public as a whole.

This guest blog has also been posted our partners Voices for Vaccines in honor of Nurses Week

Shannon Keever is a Certified Pediatric Nurse with a background in pediatric and maternity nursing. She is currently a substitute school nurse with a passion for educating families about children's health. When she's not working in schools, she enjoys spending time with her 3 children and husband at their home in sunny Bradenton, Florida. Shannon has been a member of Nurses Who Vaccinate since 2018. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

NWV Fights COVID-19 Misinformation

It is hard to escape the very serious situation that has been going on around the world these past few months and will likely continue for several more. To add to the actual medical problem are the rebound effects of social distancing and isolation. Humans by their very nature are social beings and remaining this isolated for this long is difficult even for the introverts of the world. One of the benefits of the 21st century in this regard is the internet and social media. It keeps us together in the virtual world despite having to remain physically apart. Social media and other healthcare related apps have allowed medical providers to implement telehealth to continue to see and treat patients without undue risk, allowed isolated nursing home residents to “visit” with family members and allowed government and medical institutions to rapidly disseminate critical information.

Sadly, along with the good comes the bad. There have been numerous posts on social media with incorrect, unverifiable information copied and pasted repeatedly. Often, they start with leading statements such as “From a Stanford Researcher” or “From a John’s Hopkins Infectious Disease expert”. Many offer ways to avoid infection with supplements, herbal remedies or alkaline diets. Some offer ways to prevent getting sick if you are exposed using gargling, specific diets or supplements, allowing a high fever to continue to kill the virus, etc.

We at Nurses Who Vaccinate are no strangers to the way in which misinformation can spread like wildfire across social media and often appear to be credible at first glance. We have been dealing with dispelling misinformation regarding vaccination for years and the way CoVid19 misinformation spreads is no different. Many who share these “copy/pasta” posts are well intentioned. People are concerned and some downright frightened by what they see on the news. They want to help and want people to feel like something is still within their power to fight this disease that is cruelly ravaging the world. What concerns us at Nurses Who Vaccinate is that sharing misinformation is at best useless, and at worst can cause harm by giving people false hope, avoiding appropriate medical care or direct injury by using non evidence-based remedies.

Please be wary of any posts on social media that claim to be from credible medical authorities without a link to the institution mentioned. DO NOT share any of them without verifying the source and the source’s source. We at Nurses Who Vaccinate promise to only share accurate, evidence-based information, from credible sources with citation to support them. If we do not have the answers at the ready, we do have access to numerous credible resources that can help us find accurate information.

As always, we encourage you to continue to vaccinate your children and yourselves as per recommendations from the ACIP and your physician. Now is not the time to skip vaccines as a measles outbreak on top of CoVid19 would be especially devastating

Below are several links to credible sites addressing some misinformation currently circulating on social media.

Coronavirus: Johns Hopkins Expertise- Coronavirus Myths, Rumors and Misinformation

WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters

Harvard University Health Publishing- Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus

CDC’s Coronavirus Disease Page - Facts about coronavirus disease

Our thoughts are with you all during this difficult time

Love to you all from 6 feet away,

Lori Boyle, MSN, APN, CWS, WCC
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.