I had great trepidation to write this article because it is so controversial among many nurses. However, in my desire to share with you real world happenings, I chose to go ahead to write about this subject.
Houston Methodist Hospital’s Jennifer Bridges, R.N., has worked with COVID patients since the pandemic began. She would assist patients to a window to see family members and at times hold a phone to their faces while family members spoke with them, many for the last time. She suffered numbness in her arms from holding up iPhones or iPads for hours. She risked infection, experienced the psychological toll of witnessing firsthand families in trauma.
She a times would find herself drenched in sweat and light-headed at the end of shifts. Helping her patients was a task in which she went above and beyond.
Last month, her hospital became the first hospital in the country to require mandatory COVID vaccinations for all employees. Those employees who did not comply and failed to provide proof of vaccination by this past Monday, June 7th, were suspended without pay for 2 weeks. After that, they would be subject to termination.
Nurse Bridges, by no means an anti-vaxxer, received her annual flu inoculations as well as all the other recommended vaccines. However, she did have concerns about taking the CV-19 vaccines because they were rushed onto the public with Federal Drug Administration (FDA) “emergency use authorization” rather having gone through the normal prescribed testing protocols previously required for vaccines prior to it going to the public. Essentially, rather than the vaccines first being tested on animals, the public itself became the testing subjects.
She since has encountered dozens upon dozens of patients who experienced adverse reactions to the vaccines such as blood clots, heart arrhythmia, swollen appendages, etc.
Altogether, she does not feel comfortable at this point with the vaccines but maybe after they have been evaluated more in depth or even properly tested by the FDA, she would be more agreeable to accepting the vaccines.
In her home state of Texas, apparently only 33% of the residents are fully vaccinated meaning that two-thirds of the population has not received the full vaccination treatments.
That may reflect how the vaccine issues have split our nation into an “us vs. them” society. I’ve seen the opinions and responses on social media of the 2 camps: those who believe in protecting themselves and others with the vaccines and those who are hesitant or even refuse to participate in the vaccination programs. Most believers shun those that don’t want to get vaccinated but, interestingly, I have not seen many non-vaccinated who choose to shun their inoculated counterparts.
This is typical of the profession where “nurses eat their young” … shunning your brothers and sisters for choosing what they would like or not like to put in their bodies.
Ms. Bridges said, “This is supposed to be America! You’re supposed to have civil rights and constitution rights, your freedom of choice. … Nobody should be forced to put anything into their body if they are not okay with it.”
While many health care facilities have mandatory flu vaccines, if one chooses not to take the inoculation, you can wear a mask. But this is not so with the COVID vaccines.
According to the Health Law & Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center, an at-will employee of a private institution which has medical and religious exemptions in place, is not forcing her to take the vaccine.
With the support of other nurses, receiving signatures of more than a hundred co-workers, Ms. Bridges has filed suit against the hospital. Will the courts allow her to have a choice of what goes in her body or err on the side of public health? We shall see.
Lynn Hecker says
I also that that this could not be mandated under Emergency Use Authorization? How can someone force you to take something not fully approved by the FDA? This is granted EUA only and hardly qualifies as an emergency anymore. This has illegal written all over it!
Christine Bernard says
An atrocity that nurse should be forced to have them selves injected with an untested biological agent that doesn’t stop infection or transmission, to keep their jobs
Paula Youmell, RN says
Thanks for writing this very important article.
If I was forced, I would quit, on the spot.
As a Functional Medicine RN, I’ve seen too many post covid shot (not a vaccine) issues in my clients. I do not believe this shot is safe.
I totally disagree with this nurse. All those adverse reactions this nurse claims to be seeing aren’t proven to be due to the vaccine. This vaccine isn’t just being”tested”on Americans. Its been given globally to hundreds of millions of people. Large bodies of science have endorsed the vaccine and examined it’s safety. Much more learned people than us from the CDC to the WHO and practically every major college of medicine from ACOG to the ACP.
They have all endorsed this vaccine. People like her who try to make this into a political argument only allow this disease to fester. These vaccine’s were developed in global collaboration with the most highest skilled people in the world under constant scrutiny. To say we are just “test subjects” is simply inaccurate.
This Hospital has done the right thing. I personally believe the Government as a whole should move away from a carrot approach and more towards a stick approach. If this nurse really is dedicated to science, perhaps she should start with the CDC website and read their policy statements on it. All those horrible adverse events she claims to have seen anecdotally didn’t stop the CDC from actually recommending the vaccine for our adolescents. She needs to help be a part of the solution and not the problem.
Doris Carroll says
My personal feelings, based on vaccine research, are that the data at the time, albeit only 3 months in human clinical trials, suggested minimal side effects, but great potential for Covid disease prevention in a PANDEMIC. So yes, not the usual clinical trial process. But we’re in a pandemic with 1/3 to 1/2 US citizens inoculated now. Those statistics are not high enough to attain herd immunity or control of a world wide pandemic. You want to travel to other countries who have endemic disease prevention with vaccines . And you comply. This is no different except you as a HCW, should have the knowledge of how vaccine research is conducted, if not, then seek it appropriately. Yes, there have been some serious side effects. But as the data is evaluated reduced risk continues to show less than expected in other clinical trials. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00224-3/fulltext . If you question the CDC recommendations then seek out the data in peer reviewed journals. Obviously, if you have certain conditions that may increase risk for side effects then speak with your MD. But if there are none, therefore as a HCW, you are duty bound to have the scientific knowledge and act appropriately. And protect those who you care for and especially please care enough to prevent the transmission of a deadly disease. Yes. You have the right to say no, but do so with a modicum of science based facts. And currently the facts don’t support the statement “not enough data”.
Janice Carr says
This has nothing to do with individual rights and everything to do with public health. I would think a nurse would know better. What if she unknowingly infects imunocompromised or allergic people who cannot take the shot? I would think that potential burden of guilt would outweigh any trepidations, which are statistically unfounded.
ah, the regular flu…Yes, u refuse to take it, hospitals force you to wear a mask (sounds very familiar)…Should be the same damn thing w/covid injection….And when did the whole reversal of if yer sick wear a mask & now if yer healthy, well wear one anyway, just in case…. All state BONs need to stand up for this right to refuse (free country still?) & advocate for RNs/healthcare workers. Let them pay for the litigation not a staff RN who is willing to sacrifice time/treasure, & when state BONs have connections, influence, power, time & $$$$$. Oh, where’s the state & federal leadership on this? Yes, that’s right, hiding behind politics. All mentioned above need to get a backbone, lead, or get out of the way.
Mary Turner, RN says
It takes courage and backbone to stand up for what you believe. I commend Ms. Bridges for standing up for herself. The Methodist Hospital in my opinion jumped the gun. Instead of waiting until the vaccine was FDA approved, they wanted to be leader. I view this stunt intentionally designed to be controversial so they could get free publicity. The HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges & Universities are requiring it for entry into school. If you ask me, these are both examples of abuse of power. As nurses we are now battling with keeping politics out of healthcare. I work 5 days a week administering COVID-19 shots to residents of Houston. I decided to do it because there were so many people desiring the vaccine. When patients ask me how can I give the COVID-19 vaccine when I have not taken it myself, my reply is “I’m exercising freedom of choice just like you”.
Laurie Blunk RN MSNED says
You are correct when you say “nurses eat their young”. Just reading the comments makes it clear that while we nurses would go to the mat to protect our patients right to control their own health, we are dismally lacking when it comes to supporting our fellow nurses right to govern their own health. Their are safe ways to protect ourselves and the public vaccinated or not. I believe we, as a profession need to look deeper at ourselves and ask “ will I support my colleagues right to govern their own healthcare decisions in the same way I will for my patients”?
Isabel Bruce says
I think Mary’s response is perfect. At this point in time, with all of the information we have, and do NOT have, we ALL should be permitted to exercise our right to choose. As I read more incidents of swelling etc, my trepidation increases. Not that long ago I lost the use of my hands for a year because of the side effects of vaccines. I was advised by several physicians NOT to have further vaccines. I am being cajoled with the rationale that CV-19 is different. Yes it is, and we don’t know exactly how in so many ways. If I lose the ability to care for myself, who becomes responsible for that? I need to know more and will continue to err on the side of self preservation. I am a nurse and will always protecty patients to the nest of my ability. People are at higher risk going to the store for milk than in a clinical setting, cleaned, with masked, educated cautious personnel compassionate enough to remain in their roles to provide care during this crisis. Thank you Mary.
JoAnne Fox says
I am one of the hesitant. I did my own research early on, and made my decision for me. I sincerely hope the problems I see reasonably occurring following vaccination do not occur for the many individuals who have chosen to be vaccinated. Informed consent implies the ability to decide no. Lack of informed consent is wrong on so many levels, whether by a health care provider of their patients, an employer of their employees or the greater society of those with differing beliefs. We would (I hope) not tolerate this coercion on many other issues.
Suzanne Horkan, RN says
I do not ever support mandated vaccines as well as experimental gene therapy drugs. Everyone should be able to research and make their own decisions.
Anyone who states adverse reactions and deaths from the experimental gene therapy injections are bogus need only to research America’s Frontline Doctors, Children’s Health Defense, Dr. Mercola…etc. They are not anti-vaxers but promote safe vaccines.
I’m afraid the worst is yet to come for the vaccinated when viruses flare back up according to experts in the field of virology.
Candy nelson RN says
I don’t want to get the vaccine
LORIE A BROWN, R.N., M.N., J.D. says
The Federal Judge dismissed the case. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/13/methodist-vaccine-lawsuit-dismissed/
LORIE A BROWN, R.N., M.N., J.D. says
A Federal Judge just dismissed her case. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/13/methodist-vaccine-lawsuit-dismissed/. She will appeal.
Trina D. Otamere says
Mary Turner RN I agree. I give vaccines as well and when asked how can I give the COVID-19 shot when I have not taken it myself,my response is I am a nurse, part of my duties is giving shots/vaccines. Period. Done!
Think about it! If COVID was that really all that bad, then most of the workers in the hospitals should all be dead! There have a been a few, but not the decimated numbers that one would expect to need a vaccine for. Isolation procedures are a joke at best and are only intended for short periods of time. To wear the mask longer than 15 to 20 minutes with pt breathing in your face renders the mask useless. Ya’ll never needed the vaccine you already were exposed long before you knew it.
Jessica Nunez RN says
This will be an interesting case to follow. Nurses do eat their young.
It would be interesting to see how unvaccinated nurses are treated by other nurses giving direct pt care to unvaccinated nurses. Will the treating nurse be empathetic, non judgmental in the care and delivery of care to a non vaccinated nurse and family members?
I hear and have read both sides, I have watched experts on both sides as well.
Somehow this issue will be a long and dragged out one, because when no one agrees then this disagreement in medical care will give birth to medical discrimination.
I can’t believe someone in these comments wrote: “the Government as a whole should move away from a carrot approach and more towards a stick approach..”
WE ARE NOT CATTLE ! This pandemic is more then 99% survivable. The staff at my job & I too care of a full unit of covid patients while reusing supplies back in July 2020, before any vaccine was available. If we got covid during that time, we were not covered under coronavirus care act & stayed home for atleast 10 days without pay. Now we are being accused of being a hazard to people if we choose not to get it. a nurse practitioner at work the other day said “unvaccinated patients shouldn’t get to have ventilators”. She was talking about her patients.
I have always declined the flu shot at work & I am not going to convinced that I’m a hazard to my patients if I refuse this. It is medical coercion. The facts are we don’t know the extent of deaths or side effects related to this vaccine. We don’t know the lady mg term effects. We don’t even know much about Covid itself- was it made it a lab or did it come from a bat? What we though we knew, we don’t even know for sure at this point.
They way some doctors & nurses are talking about their unvaccinated PATIENTS is despicable.
Jud Humphries MBA BSN RN says
As a vaccinated RN healthcare administrator, I see both aspects of this argument. I don’t believe mandates are the appropriate or legal course of action. With increased availability of rapid testing and possible use of batch testing. Healthcare professionals can be tested just as fast as being screened. If an employee chooses to refuse vaccination, then it is the employers’ responsibility to provide testing supplies. The next argument will be weather an employee can refuse testing or screening. It will ultimately take the courts to define where those lines are drawn.