The longstanding impact of COVID-19 overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare centers everywhere. Due to the sudden high influx of patients with COVID-19, hospitals were completely swamped and lacked sufficient supplies (PPE), space, and staff.
This caused nurses and healthcare staff to be severely overworked and stressed, negatively affecting personnel and their patients. Vaccinations contribute to a decrease in total covid-related hospitalizations, which will help protect healthcare workers from illness and burnout.
In this article, we will explore the effect coronavirus has had on the nurses and allied health professionals of today.
Long been proven to prevent diseases, vaccines artificially activate the immune response and therefore develop immunities to help people not get sick. In the past 135 years, we have already been able to get past:
- yellow fever
- hepatitis B and A
- human papillomavirus
With COVID-19 showing just how much of a serious challenge a pandemic can still be, becoming vaccinated has been a source of both dire need and tension.
Vaccines will also help slow virus mutations by slowing their ability to spread. While the vaccine does not fully guarantee safety from contracting the virus (vaccines are between 60-90% effective), they allow for patients’ symptoms to be less difficult to manage in a hospital setting.
Potential Coronavirus Vaccine Mandates
Many facilities stress the importance of vaccinations, especially to nurses or allied health professionals. Some healthcare systems already require staff to get vaccinated and more are considering following suit.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has stated it would mandate its front-line workers, such as nurses, to receive coronavirus vaccines for the safety of its people.
Why is this important? American Progress states that, to this day, “more than 500,000 healthcare workers have contracted the coronavirus and 1,673 have died from COVID-19.”
Healthcare workers put patients and those immunocompromised at high risk of infection due to frequent contact with unvaccinated individuals.
We can also see patients now requesting vaccinated nurses in hospitals. In Austin, a new mother was shocked to find out that a nurse she had come in contact with was not vaccinated. While she had nothing against the labor and delivery staff or the nurse assisting her, she was appalled that she wasn’t protected in the healthcare setting. She was given a vaccinated nurse by day’s end, but questions the safety of patients.
How Do COVID-19 Vaccine Policies Affect Nurses?
When it comes to the nurses themselves, vaccine policies can place them in a more protected position. While on the front lines, nurses can gain a mild sense of relief in knowing they and their patients can spare the harshness of coronavirus complications.
At the same time, there is also a very much talked-about risk. Nurses fear they will experience discrimination if they choose not to get the vaccine. Some employers may view them as being at higher risk of getting sick and refuse to hire them.
Nurses who do not want to get the vaccine may also face pressure from their peers or superiors to change their minds. It is important that nurses have a voice in the decisions about the vaccine and that their concerns are taken into account.
On one hand, nurses have a moral obligation to do everything they can to ensure the safety of their patients. On the other, some nurses feel conflicted about the risks and benefits of the vaccine.
Encouragement of the COVID-19 Vaccine
To push vaccination rates, some nurses and allied health professionals may take on the responsibility of encouraging their patients to get vaccinated. Although people often seek out healthcare professionals for medical advice, it is still important to approach this subject with subtlety and care.
Nurses see the effects of any disease or virus that arises, and they are the ones that need to deal with the consequences. Patients have more of an “out of sight, out of mind” perspective, making it increasingly harder for them to understand the impact of foregoing the vaccine.
This means nurses need to be the ones with the information and advise patients on protecting themselves and protecting those around them. Nurses are not only able to provide information through their own experience but evidence-based information about its safety, any side effects, and the importance of vaccines in immunization.
Not all vaccine-hesitant people are on the same page, as some are more inclined to the idea than others. Meet your patients where they are to establish trust and respect. Clearly explain the immunization process and focus more on the solutions the vaccines offer rather than the problems they solve. Stay up to date on developments about covid-19 and vaccines from credible sources such as the CDC. You don’t want to share outdated information.
It Takes a Toll
Nurses and healthcare workers have been facing greater and greater demands to keep their communities safe and healthy in a COVID-19 world. While their work is important in battling the spread of disease and caring for those afflicted, it takes a toll on a nurse’s well-being.
Many healthcare workers have been experiencing severe psychiatric symptoms because of the challenges created by COVID-19. Staff and bed shortages in hospitals put extreme pressure on nurses to provide care for their patients with limited resources.
When dealing with circumstances that are outside of their control, nurses are particularly prone to moral injury, leading to even greater risks of anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Help Support the Nurse in your Life Through Covid
When dealing with circumstances like these that are outside of their control, nurses are particularly prone to moral injury, leading to even greater risks of anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Whether you have a friend, family member, spouse, or coworker who is a nurse, there are ways in which you can show your kindness and support.
Keep Yourself Informed
New developments in the pandemic like the Omicron variant have made people understandably worried. One way to help is by looking for reliable sources to keep yourself informed about COVID-19, like the CDC official website. This gives the nurse in your life a break from talking about work.
On the other hand, some nurses may find release in expressing their frustrations. Because this is an ongoing problem, it poses new problems and additional stress for an already high-pressure work environment. If the nurse in your life has had a tough day and needs to talk about it, give them space to express their feelings.
Be An Advocate
Many of the sources of nurses’ stress are not tied to one hospital or bad patient experience, but rather the cumulative effects of public disinformation, poor adherence to PPE measures, and lack of support for frontline healthcare workers. Nursing is far from an easy job, and we all need to do our part to care for them in return.
The COVID-19 vaccine is a critical step in preventing the spread of the virus, but it is not without risk. Nurses face many decisions with the vaccine – whether to get it or encourage their patients to get it. They need to be able to make an informed decision based on evidence-based information.
At TheraEx Staffing, we are committed to helping nurses make the best decisions for their careers and their patients. We offer a variety of resources, including continuing education courses and exclusive job opportunities, to help nurses stay informed and up-to-date on the latest developments in the healthcare industry. Visit our website today to learn more.