Leading Nursing Organizations Provide Guidelines to Nursing Programs About Unvaccinated Students
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), together with eight other major nursing organizations have issued a policy brief to assist nursing education programs who are dealing with a small number of unvaccinated students. The NCSBN is the organization responsible for administration of the Registered Nurse (RN) licensing exam (NCLEX) among all fifty states.
CHICAGO – “As nurse leaders we wanted to provide direction to nursing programs that are dealing with a small number of unvaccinated students. This policy brief highlights recommendations for nursing programs that include reaching out to vaccine-hesitant students and counseling them about the benefits of the vaccine.” – NCSBN Chief Officer, Nursing Regulation, Maryann Alexander, PhD, RN, FAAN.
Much of the fear and concern over receiving the COVID vaccine is based on misinformation and lack of knowledge about the vaccine and its development (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021). According to one study, as of August 2021, 92% of nursing faculty were vaccinated or planned to be vaccinated and 86% of currently enrolled students have been vaccinated (National Student Nurses Association, 2021). Thus, it is a small number of students who are vaccine-hesitant and affected by vaccine mandates. “We know that vaccination protects both the person vaccinated and those for whom they care. Our hope is that unvaccinated nursing students follow the science and get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Alexander remarks.
- Students should be vaccinated when clinical facilities require it so that they can participate in the clinical experience and progress in their programs.
- Nursing education programs should reach out to students who are vaccine-hesitant and counsel the students about the benefit of the vaccine and the need for it as a student enrolled in a nursing program, and address myths and misleading information about the vaccine.
- All Nursing course descriptions should include that a clinical practice component requiring direct patient care is required.
- Nursing education programs are mandated by boards of nursing as well as accreditors to provide students with clinical experiences. They are not obligated to provide substitute or alternate clinical experiences based on a student’s request or vaccine preference. Just as the nursing education program and/or clinical facilities require other vaccines, the facilities have the option to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.