OK, so I am majorly stepping up on my soapbox with this one. I refuse to let the anti-vaxxers win. Not when we have a chance to deny this deadly COVID-19 virus hosts.

But, yeah, I am trying to understand the mentality of those that buy into the false rhetoric of this movement. And because it takes over social media, and because conspiracy theories validate one’s own false beliefs, it’s interfering with us being able to resume some type of normalcy and growing back our census and not working on skeleton crews.

Take the now-former physician Andrew Wakefield, who lost his license to ever practice medicine. He started the debunked conspiracy that certain childhood vaccines caused autism. And because of him and his lies, which spread like wildfire via social media groups for years, we wound up with the largest outbreak of measles in 2019. Unfortunately, other wacky doctors jumped on that train for notoriety and public following, book sales, natural remedy sales etc. They profit off each other’s lack of knowledge.

Just so you know, viruses don’t die. The only thing we have the power to do is deny them a host. That’s what the tools in our toolbox do. The vaccine, wearing a mask, physical distancing, disinfecting, hand hygiene — all help deny the virus a host. But we have to unite and do it together or this virus will mutate and mutate, and we’ll be dealing with it year after year after year.

So, yes, I am disappointed in the numbers on the low vaccination rates of nursing home staff across the country. Nursing home residents, no problem. Those numbers are high. Hospital staff, no problem. Those numbers are high. National news shows elders waiting in line in wheelchairs and walkers from 1 a.m. on to get the vaccine and complaining about the difficulty with distribution. And here we are, on the front line to get the vaccine — and it’s free — so why the low numbers of nursing home staff? This is, frankly, nationally embarrassing. 

Answers to questions

Since I am charged with the vaccine education for my company, let me share with you the answers to many of the questions that I receive.

The vaccine is not being “pushed.” However, there is great urgency to distribute the vaccine as much as possible because the mortality rate is high, especially in our resident population. 

Last week we hit about 4,100 people a day dying from this virus. More people are dying every single day — yes, every single day — than in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, which claimed about 3,100 lives total. 

The vaccine is being offered to those who are at more risk of getting the virus and spreading it. Those include healthcare workers and those that live in congregate housing, such as older adults, who are at more of a risk of dying. The longer it takes to vaccinate 70% to 80% of the population, the more of a chance we will see more mutations of this virus. Can you imagine having to continually deal with COVID year after year? 

There is a lot of information out on the vaccine. mRNA vaccine research and development were done during the Ebola crisis. Our government developed the technology to use mRNA in vaccines (which is more efficient and quicker to develop than traditional vaccine development, which takes cells or eggs to grow). 

However, the money ran out and Congress at that time refused to continue funding the project. But when this COVID-19 hit, virologists were able to just build on all that research and development that was already done. The ONLY thing not done on this vaccine was a prolonged Phase 4 study. If they did that, it would give this virus so much time to mutate that we would lose the ability to control it.

All in the same boat

I realize we have a history of some really bad stuff that was done experimentally to people of color with immunization. But please know that everyone in the facility is getting vaccinated with the same vaccine. Also, I assume most everyone has received their childhood vaccines and have had their children and grandchildren vaccinated  (if you have them). Why is this different? Unless the anti-vaxxers got to you!

We also know this vaccine does not alter your DNA, does not cause infertility, does not have futuristic nanoparticle invisible tracers in it, nor all the other stuff the anti-vaxxers are out there selling.

It will help us get back to a lifestyle where we can eventually go out again, breathe without masks, hug again, go to events and not risk killing people because we do. Oh, and as an extra incentive, get ready for the new norm coming to a town near you where you can attend large events such as concerts, sports, movies and theme parks only by showing you’ve been vaccinated. 

Hey, we have to get the economy back, and places of business are tired of having to shut down after they open up because a super spreader entered their place of business. That will be the new norm.

So, yeah, a vaccine card will be your new VIP entry ticket for so many things. Or you can stay home and read up on conspiracy theories. Make the right choice.

Just keeping it real.

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.