Vaccine Hesitancy Among Registered Nurses and the Effect on Patients and the Public

 In Nurses Weekly

When a nurse, or other healthcare provider, supports vaccination and recommends it, studies show that both patients and the public are more likely to accept vaccines too.1,2,3

  • Nurses give more vaccines, have more patient contact and provide more patient education than anyone else.4
  • Nurses are ethically and morally obligated to give you the facts about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.5
  • Only clean water works better than vaccination, at reducing death, disability, disease and inequality.6,7,8

Vaccine Hesitancy: One of the top 10 threats to worldwide health since 2019.9

  • Vaccine hesitancy happens either when you delay in accepting a vaccine, or when you say no to a vaccine, even though a vaccine is ready and available for you.10

The Problem: Vaccine Hesitancy Among Nurses.

  • Only 34% of registered nurses would agree to accept to the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 80.4% of scientists and physicians who would accept the COVID-19 vaccine.11
  • Only 44% of surveyed registered nurses are comfortable offering patient education about the COVID-19 vaccine.12
  • Nurses who experience vaccine hesitancy themselves offer weakened recommendations to patients and the public, which makes patients vaccine hesitant too.3


  • Require continuing education hours regarding vaccination, as a condition of the RNs license renewal process through the New Jersey Board of Nursing.
  • Invest federal funding (e.g., NIH, AHRQ and CDC) in research: understanding why nurses, who are trained in scientific medicine and evidence-based practice, remain hesitant about the safety and efficacy of vaccines is critical to the success of national and global vaccination programs.13

Policy Brief March 2021

Lynne Moronski, MPA, BS, RN



  1. Dybsand, L. L., Hall, K. J., & Carson, P. J. (2019, Jul 2). Immunization attitudes, opinions, and knowledge of healthcare professional students at two Midwestern universities in the United States. BMC Medical Education, 19(1), 242.
  2. Karlsson, L. C., Lewandowsky, S., Antfolk, J., Salo, P., Lindfelt, M., Oksanen, T., Kivimäki, M., & Soveri, A. (2019). The association between vaccination confidence, vaccination behavior, and willingness to recommend vaccines among Finnish healthcare workers. PloS One, 14(10), e0224330.
  3. Paterson, P., Meurice, F., Stanberry, L. R., Glismann, S., Rosenthal, S. L., & Larson, H. J. (2016, Dec 20). Vaccine hesitancy and healthcare providers. Vaccine, 34(52), 6700-6706.
  4. Navin, M. C., Kozak, A. T., & Deem, M. J. (2020, Jan – Feb). Perspectives of public health nurses on the ethics of mandated vaccine education. Nursing Outlook, 68(1), 62-72.
  5. American Academy of Nursing. (2020, April 30). Immunization is Key to Eliminating Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
  6. Andre, F. E., Booy, R., Bock, H. L., Clemens, J., Datta, S. K., John, T. J., Lee, B. W., Lolekha, S., Peltola, H., & Ruff, T. (2008). Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86, 140-146.
  7. Plotkin, S. L., & Plotkin, S. A. (2012). A short history of vaccination. In S. A. Plotkin, W. Orenstein, & P. A. Offit (Eds.), Vaccines: Expert Consult (6th ed., pp. 1-13). Elsevier.
  8. Rodrigues, C. M. C., & Plotkin, S. A. (2020). Impact of Vaccines: Health, Economic and Social Perspectives. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, 1526.
  9. World Health Organization. (2020). Ten threats to global health in 2019.
  10. SAGE Working Group on Vaccine Hesitancy. (2014). Report of the SAGE Working Group on Vaccine Hesitancy.
  11. Shaw, J., Stewart, T., Anderson, K. B., Hanley, S., Thomas, S. J., Salmon, D. A., & Morley, C. (2021, Jan 25). Assessment of U.S. health care personnel (HCP) attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination in a large university health care system. Clinical Infectious Diseases.
  12. American Nurses Foundation. (2020, Oct 29). New Survey of 13K U.S. Nurses: Findings Indicate Urgent Need to Educate Nurses about COVID-19 Vaccines
  13. Dube, E., Laberge, C., Guay, M., Bramadat, P., Roy, R., & Bettinger, J. (2013, Aug). Vaccine hesitancy: an overview. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics,9(8), 1763-1773.
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