The work of nurse leaders from our Vaccine Confidence Advisory Committee (VCAC) were recently featured in local newspapers across the country. The VCAC was launched in April 2021 by the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC) as part of a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence among nurses and their patients. NNCC conducted a national search for nurses who could inform our work from a diverse set of communities across the U.S.
The VCAC is comprised of 20 nurses of varying roles and healthcare settings from a variety of communities. Together, they work to raise awareness of the barriers around equitable vaccine education and access. Some of these nurse leaders are highlighted below:
Kentucky's The News Enterprise featured Joyce Johnson , who discussed her work as an advanced practice nurse, her participation in the VCAC, and her advocacy to promote NNCC’s Nurses Make Change Happen campaign. Johnson, who works with patients with substance use disorders, emphasized the importance of making sure that voice was heard in the campaign. “I have a very vulnerable patient population and I’m always looking for times that I can be an advocate for them and times that I can increase awareness of the needs of this group,” she said. Johnson was also recently featured in NNCC's Nurses Make Change Happen nurse stories.
In Dover, Delaware, family nurse practitioner Evelyn Crump expressed a similar sense of urgency to Bay to Bay News. “I know that vaccines save lives,” Dr. Crump said. “So I want to do the best that I can and offer the most up-to-date scientific information to patients.” Dr. Crump has also worked to promote NNCC’s Nurses Make Change Happen Toolkit, which provides resources, shareable images, and social media content for nurses to help launch conversations around vaccine hesitancy. Of the toolkit, NNCC’s Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, Kristine Gonnella, says, “We recognize how quickly misinformation can spread. We’re trying to address that head-on and dispel some of the myths around this vaccine.”
In Flagstaff, Arizona, Janet Reich is similarly dedicated to combatting misinformation. As a school nurse on a Navajo reservation and a former clinical researcher on pediatric vaccines, Reich is eager to explain the breadth and depth of research behind the COVID-19 vaccines. On her years as a research associate, she told the Arizona Daily Sun, “We were boots-on-the-ground watchdogs. We were the ones that go into the (trial) sites, train them, oversee them and make sure the data is clean and accurate. Being in that role, I am intimately aware of what all goes into these studies on vaccines and can help people understand better what emergency approval means.”
In an interview for Vaccine Voices, Vaccine Confidence Advisory Committee member, Melody Butler, BSN, RN, discussed combatting misinformation in the push to vaccinate more nurses. “We’re trying to encourage nurses to be more vocal, maybe on their social media pages, maybe at their workplace speaking up during a lunch break or just ending a conversation when people are spreading misinformation,” Butler says.
NNCC and the VCAC will continue to work towards a world where everyone is vaccinated against COVID-19. “Nurses are often behind the scenes getting the work done,” says Gonnella. “We really saw this as an opportunity to elevate the role nurses have played over time and the role nurses are playing currently within the COVID-19 pandemic to promote vaccine confidence to get us to a brighter, post-COVID future.”