“Nurses have never been confronted with such conflict and angst over an illness or a vaccination as is occurring today,” says Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Christian Nursing and Director of Nurses Christian Fellowship.
She believes the controversy related to vaccine mandates has intensified the need for nurses to have the most credible and timely information concerning the vaccine. To that end, Schoonover-Shoffner examined numerous sources and verified research findings for the recently published article, “Navigating COVID Vaccination in Tumultuous Times.” The article is free online at https://journals.lww.com/journalofchristiannursing/Fulltext/2022/01000/Fall_2021_Update__Navigating_COVID_Vaccination_in.24.aspx?context=FeaturedArticles&collectionId=4
Nurses are being asked repeatedly to make recommendations about COVID vaccination, which is especially challenging for nurses with conflicted thoughts and feelings about the pandemic and vaccination. “Nurses express they are struggling to know and believe what is the best and most accurate COVID vaccine information,” writes Schoonover-Shoffner (2021, p. E1).
Nurses and Misinformation
The controversy and conflicts have resulted in nurses providing and perpetuating misinformation, according to Pamela Grace, PhD, RN, FAAN, who wrote on this topic and offered strategies for ethical practices in the American Journal of Nursing (Grace, 2021).
Nurses may spread misinformation for various reasons, including false beliefs based on strong convictions or out of concern for possible injustices against vulnerable populations. Grace advocates for “thoroughly researched information” and “the need for transparency about what is known and not known” (p. 51). about a topic such as COVID vaccine and treatment.
Getting to the Facts
Identifying misinformation and validating data are why Schoonover-Shoffner researched the topic, aiming to offer nurses sound findings that we can reliably share and base our actions and practice upon. Her article discusses common questions about COVID vaccinations:
- Were the vaccines fully tested before being approved for administration to the public?
- Are COVID-19 vaccines safe? What is known about side effects?
- What do we know about COVID-19 vaccination and fertility or pregnancy?
- What about alternative views of COVID vaccination?
Nurses are expected to provide accurate information so people can make informed decisions. We answer questions; if we don’t know the answers, we try to find them or refer patients to more knowledgeable sources. We do not state and teach anything we are not sure is accurate
As Christian nurses, Schoonover-Shoffner advocates that we encourage others to ask God for his help to discern what to do about COVID-19 vaccination. Of utmost importance, she concludes, we must take the apostle Paul's advice about fixing our attention on God:
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2, The Message)
Grace, P. J. (2021). Nurses spreading misinformation. American Journal of Nursing, 121(12), 49-53. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NAJ.0000803200.65113.fd
Schoonover-Shoffner, K. (2021). Fall 2021 update: Navigating COVID vaccination in tumultuous times, Journal of Christian Nursing, 39(1), E1-10. https://doi.org/10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000926