Distribution and administration of vaccines to combat the COVID-19 virus continue to expand, but myths and misinformation about the vaccine and its safety and benefits persist. According to a recent article in the journal Health Affairs, effective vaccination requires four elements: generating demand for the vaccine, allocating the vaccine, distributing the vaccine, and verifying coverage.
The National League for Nursing, the premier organization for nursing education leaders, emphasizes the importance of educating health professionals and the public about the vaccine. Vaccines in general work by encouraging the body to generate antibodies to protect against an invading infection. The risks of these mild symptoms, however, such as pain at the site of injection or symptoms resembling a mild case of the flu, are greatly outweighed by the protection offered by the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines are becoming available from multiple pharmaceutical companies. Some require two doses to be fully effective, but other vaccines in development require only one dose.
The safety of the public is a top priority, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messages and online surveys to follow individuals after they are vaccinated. The tool allows users to report symptoms and side effects quickly and easily, and to receive guidance on what to do for any side effects that occur. The National League for Nursing also emphasizes the importance of vaccine uptake in Black, Latino, and Native American communities, many of which are medically underserved in the best of times. Nurses and nurse educators can do their part to increase trust and vaccine acceptance in these communities, “Efforts to promote vaccine uptake in the Black community must directly confront and address the deep historical traumas that have created high levels of distrust in the COVID-19 vaccine, and the government and healthcare system overall,” according to a survey on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Black and Latino communities conducted by Langer Research Associates.
Latino communities have experienced an especially high burden of COVID-19 infections but the survey data suggest that resistance to vaccination is lower in these communities compared to Black communities. Overall, equity and access are key to protecting the public, and messaging about the importance of getting a vaccine as soon as it is available should be “open, honest, and comprehensive,” according to the National League for Nursing.
For more information about how nurses and nurse educators are taking the lead in educating the public about the safety and importance of COVID-19 vaccination, visit NLN.org. Originally published by NewsUSA.