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COVID-19 vaccine delivery: what should be done to counter abuse of nurses?

Staff have a role in educating those fearful of vaccines but abuse by patients must not be tolerated, readers say
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Nurses have a role in educating those fearful of vaccines but abuse by patients must not be tolerated, readers say

Nurses promoting or delivering COVID-19 vaccinations have been the recipients of abuse in person and trolling on social media from anti-vaxxers.

How should such abuse and misinformation be countered?

Nursing Standard readers have their say.

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions we experience – it’s very challenging to change. Whether a person’s fear of COVID-19 makes them thankful to nurses, terrified of nurses (as carriers), or disbelieving in COVID-19 (less scary to believe it is a hoax),

Nurses have a role in educating those fearful of vaccines but abuse by patients must not be tolerated, readers say

Anti-vaccine propaganda is rife on social media. Picture: iStock

Nurses promoting or delivering COVID-19 vaccinations have been the recipients of abuse in person and trolling on social media from anti-vaxxers.

How should such abuse and misinformation be countered?

Nursing Standard readers have their say.


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions we experience – it’s very challenging to change. Whether a person’s fear of COVID-19 makes them thankful to nurses, terrified of nurses (as carriers), or disbelieving in COVID-19 (less scary to believe it is a hoax), it is not always as simple as just ‘educating’ people away from misinformed views.

COVID-19 deniers will vehemently defend their position, because to admit they were wrong and the virus is real is even scarier. Education is a start, but to me kindness and support towards my colleagues when faced with a fearful patient is more important.


Grant Byrne is a staff nurse in the ICU at Glasgow Royal Infirmary
@GGByrne

When it comes to misinformation, the internet has a lot to answer for. Almost anyone can shape the views of millions with little more than a status update.

Meanwhile nurses regularly have to dispel myths put forward by ‘Dr Google’. There is no simple solution to this issue but there should be zero tolerance for abuse. For those whose views have been shaped by falsehoods, however, education is the answer.

Thankfully nurses are well-placed to rise to this challenge. After all, we have a great deal of experience translating jargon and evidence to help those we care for.


Sherene Gayle is a third-year adult nursing student at Middlesex University

Combatting anti-vax sentiment is a big issue in the nursing profession. I’m mindful that everyone has a human right and freedom of choice in whether they choose to be vaccinated.

Some younger women are concerned COVID-19 vaccines might affect their fertility, while others believe outlandish conspiracy theories. But abusing nurses for their role in tackling COVID-19 is worrying. I’ve even encountered registered nurses who don’t support the vaccines.

Nursing employers need to send a strong message of support to their staff by encouraging them to report verbal abuse or threats from patients, while educational public health campaigns countering misinformation should continue.


Jandryle Trondillo is deputy home manager at Caring Homes Group
@jaytrondillo

Resistance can sometimes be due to a lack of knowledge. Beliefs are often shaped by false information circulating on social media.

It is our fundamental duty as healthcare professionals to educate the misinformed: tackling misinformation about vaccination is everyone’s responsibility, as this affects us all. Sitting down and discussing pros and cons helps address misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Abuse from patients directed at staff is never acceptable, and it’s important for managers to ensure colleagues feel protected and supported. Organisations should have systems for dealing with these incidents, at a minimum operating a zero tolerance approach in the workplace.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only


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