Cites key concerns about nurse’s health and welfare
American Nurses Association Press Release (2003)
Washington, DC — The American Nurses Association (ANA) has asked President Bush to delay plans to begin immunization of nurses and other front-line health care workers until key concerns are addressed about the health and welfare of those who are immunized. Plans to vaccinate 500,000 health care workers are slated to begin January 24. Registered nurses are among those included in this first phase of the plan as well as the second phase of 10 million first responders who are scheduled to receive this vaccination.
“We are well aware that there is a pressing need to be prepared against the possibility of a bio-terrorist attack,” said ANA President Barbara A. Blakeney, MS, APRN, BC, ANP. “However, we want people to be able to make an informed decision about whether or not they should get vaccinated against smallpox, and I do not believe we have the answers we need to make that informed decision,” she said.
In a letter sent to President Bush yesterday, ANA identified the following outstanding issues that must be addressed before the program moves forward:
- the potential transmission of the vaccinia virus to patients and family members;
- the right of coverage of medical costs associated with receiving the vaccine;
- the utilization of safer bifurcated needles;
- the critical need to establish an adequate prescreening and education program;
- maintaining sufficient staffing during the voluntary, pre-event vaccination program;
- compensation for lost time at work due to adverse effects of the vaccination program, and protection from job discrimination or retaliation for refusing to be vaccinated.
“Without a resolution of these concerns, ANA can not fully support the smallpox vaccination program at this time,” said Blakeney. “ANA looks forward to assisting the administration in addressing these concerns. We urge you to delay the January 24 deadline in order to provide the time needed for a solution that best serves the nation’s nurses and their patient’s.”