DOVER — A local Bayhealth nurse is sharing her COVID-19 story as part of a national campaign to encourage confidence in the vaccine.
Evelyn Crump, a family nurse practitioner at Bayhealth Occupational Health, Dover, has joined the “Nurses Make Change Happen” initiative to reduce vaccine hesitancy.
“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.”
Along with earning her Ph.D., Dr. Crump is dually credentialed as a women’s health and family nurse practitioner. She has been a nurse for more than 30 years and also has experience teaching nursing and/or functioning as a clinical site preceptor for seven academic institutions.
As a practitioner working throughout the pandemic, Dr. Crump said she has experienced numerous stories of loss and regret from the community.
For instance, one of her friends shared that he lost several of his family members to COVID-19 within a few months. His family got together for a holiday celebration, none of them were vaccinated, and several of them died within a few months.
Dr. Crump said this individual was initially skeptical about getting the vaccine, but he eventually did. He told her he regrets not getting vaccinated earlier and encouraging his family members to do the same. He said that if they had been vaccinated, his story could have had a different ending, with his relatives being alive today.
“I hear a lot of regret,” Dr. Crump said. “A lot of people regret that they didn’t take the vaccine or they didn’t take the virus seriously. There’s a lot of sad stories.”
Another community member shared with Dr. Crump that she had access to the vaccine but did not get it and ended up being infected with the coronavirus, along with several of her family members. She was encouraged to receive the vaccine by Dr. Crump when she was eligible.
As a nurse, Dr. Crump said it is her responsibility to be vaccinated to protect her patients and her community. She has continued to encourage others to take the vaccine by directing them to the facts — the vaccine was tested in clinical trials with more than 100,000 participants, it was granted emergency use authorization after trials by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, and it is an mRNA vaccine, so it will not infect anyone with the virus.
Above all, Dr. Crump said, studies have shown that the vaccine prevents severe illness, hospitalization and death, while helping to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We’re losing lives unnecessarily,” Dr. Crump said. “People are making life-or-death decisions based on misinformation.”
The campaign is run by the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium, a subsidiary of the Public Health Management Corp. Kristine Gonnella, senior director of strategic initiatives at NNCC, said nurses were chosen because of the critical role they play in the community.
To that end, a Gallup poll has voted nurses the most ethical and honest profession every year since 1999, except for 2001, when it was firefighters.
“Nurses are often behind the scenes getting the work done,” Ms. Gonnella said. “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.”
The first person to receive the COVID-19 shot in the United States was a nurse, while the first person in Delaware was a Bayhealth Progressive Care Unit nurse.
Ms. Gonnella said the campaign aims to support nurses with the tools, resources and information needed to speak honestly to their patients to increase vaccine confidence and vaccination rates. Nurses are provided a comprehensive toolkit, which includes fact sheets addressing common vaccine questions, suggestions for hosting community events and strategies to help patients overcome barriers to vaccine appointments.
NNCC has also started a social media campaign, which provides shareable content and infographics for nurses to engage with their communities and address misinformation. Ms. Gonnella said false information surrounding the vaccine on sites like Facebook is clicked six times more than evidence-based information.
“Those are things that really concern us because we recognize how quickly misinformation can spread,” she said. “We’re trying to address that head-on and dispel some of the myths around this vaccine.”