As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to increase infection rates in some regions of the United States, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has voiced support for COVID-19 vaccination mandates for healthcare workers and other vaccine initiatives and campaigns.
On July 26, ANA released a statement in support of healthcare employers mandating that nurses and all healthcare personnel get vaccinated against COVID-19 in alignment with current recommendations for immunization by public health officials.
“Vaccination is both a significant public health victory and a scientifically proven strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the loss of more American lives,” said ANA President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “As the largest group of healthcare professionals, nurses are critical to all facets of COVID-19 response efforts and must strive to remain physically and psychologically safe to function optimally to care for themselves, their patients, and their communities. Nurses must get vaccinated.”
ANA’s decision to support COVID-19 vaccine mandates for nurses aligns with its longstanding position on immunizations, which emphasizes that effective protection of the public health mandates that all individuals receive immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases. ANA also believes that the safety profile of authorized COVID-19 vaccines is stable, which includes the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered under the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization. ANA maintains its stance to not support philosophical or religious exemptions as reasons not to get vaccinated.
“A significant number of nurses working in a variety of healthcare settings across the nation have diligently fulfilled their ethical duty to protect themselves, their colleagues, patients, and loved ones by getting a COVID-19 vaccine,” Grant said. “We would absolutely be remiss to not acknowledge these nurses and applaud them for leading the charge and setting an example for their patients.”
In addition, ANA joined the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in calling for the urgent prioritization of COVID-19 vaccines to all nurses and healthcare professionals globally.
According to the World Health Organization, 135 million healthcare professionals around the world remained unvaccinated as of July. Many of these individuals are nurses on the frontlines of this persistent pandemic, providing care to communities in low- and middle-income countries that lack a steady and sustainable supply of COVID-19 vaccines. ICN estimates that more than 2,000 nurses across 59 countries have died from COVID-19. However, this number is likely much higher as tracking among health workers is inconsistent.
“It is deeply concerning that at this point in the pandemic, many nurses abroad do not have access to the recommended dose regimen of COVID-19 vaccines,” Grant said.
ANA’s guiding principles for COVID-19 vaccines state that “it is critical to establish and sustain an infrastructure to support global equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.”
Joint public appeal to get vaccinated
In further support of increasing vaccination rates, ANA joined the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association in a public service announcement (PSA) featuring their leaders urging the American public to ask questions, follow the science, and get vaccinated. The PSA stresses that COVID-19 vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect you, your family, and your community from the virus. The PSA was released in English and Spanish. View the English version at bit.ly/2WuOVOi.
This effort continues the work the three associations have done over the past year and a half to increase public acceptance of the essential actions to curb the spread of COVID-19.