Vaccination Ethics Come to Question as The Patriot Nurse Strikes Again
Jan 25, 2012

Last week, there was quite a lot of discussion about a YouTube video entitled, “Why This Nurse WON’T Vaccinate” that was posted by a woman who refers to herself as the “Patriot Nurse”.  I wrote a blog post here on Shot of Prevention that included the video, along with a point by point commentary from a vaccinating nurse who I refered to as the Canadian Nurse.  Since the Patriot Nurse didn’t allow comments on her YouTube video, my intent was to generate an open discussion here on Shot of PRevention, where we are proud to allow differing views in our comments.  As you can see, the post received quite a few comments and since it’s never been our policy to censor them, you can understand the debate that this video has sparked.
Well today I want to update you on some recent developments with The Patriot Nurse.
It appears that the statements made in the video by The Patriot Nurse were troubling to many people, including blog writer Martine O’Callaghan who writes for Autismum and Nerditorial. She too wanted to write about this video and bring it to the attention of her readers. However, she first tried to verify the identify of The Patriot Nurse, in order to establish her educational and occupational background and experience. That prompted her to write a letter to a birthing center in TN where she believed Ms. Greene (aka The Patriot Nurse) has been employed.
Ms. O’Callaghan explains in her recent blog post that she was in no way calling for the dismissal of The Patriot Nurse.  She simply wanted to verify whether this person representing herself as a nurse on the video was currently working for the birthing center.  She also inquired as to whether the Patriot Nurse’s views on vaccination coincided with the policies of the birthing center.  After all, if a member of the birthing center’s staff has opted out of vaccination, shouldn’t the pregnant women giving birth there be informed of this?  After all, there are dangerous vaccine preventable diseases that can be life threatening to an infant who is still too young to be vaccinated and many cases where infants have died as a result.
It appears that since our last posting, The Patriot Nurse took down the YouTube video and has since made a statement on her Facebook page that suggests that her employer had some questions for her in regards to it.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with a woman sharing her personal opinions regarding vaccines on YouTube, right?
Unless you are a nurse who attempts to speak as an authority on the subject of vaccines and you happen to have direct contact with pregnant women and newborns, is that it?

So, where exactly does the line get drawn?   What are the ethical implications here?  What are the consequences to these actions?  And what should they be? 

I’m curious to hear what you think in regards to this topic?    However, I feel it is only fair to start off with a comment we received from the Canadian Nurse who first attempted to correct some of The Patriot Nurse’s misinformation.  She commented for Shot of Prevention as follows:
Good morning angry supporters of The Patriot Nurse (TPN).
No one is debating your RIGHT to choose whether or not to vaccinate. But if you have the right to NOT vaccinate, then a patient – especially parents who …will be giving birth to a vulnerable neonate under your care – should have the right to choose whether or not you act as their nurse.
NO one is after The Patriot Nurse’s job. A science writer for a legitimate science zine contacted her work to verify her identity. Which is exactly what a responsible writer does before publication – verifies a source.
Non-vaccinating nurses at other hospitals have to take isolation per-cautions(gloves, gown, mask). This is to protect them and protect the patients. Regardless of whether YOU think vaccines work – science sure thinks that they do, and the employers have a right and a duty to protect those under its care.
The Patriot Nurse is a sham. She states in her video that saying this comes as a great cost to her as a nurse. If she so firmly believes in her anti-vaccination rhetoric – so much so that she would post it online AND STATE THAT SHE WAS A NURSE – then she should be well aware of the potential consequences.
All of you crying “free speech” are being deceived. The Patriot Nurse has deleted EVERY SINGLE comment that was not entirely supportive of her. You can’t claim that her free speech is in jeopardy while she refuses that right to others.
The Patriot Nurse made a video. A stupid video. In which she makes very very basic scientific errors. She was called to answer to those errors on her page, on this blog, on Orac’s blog and elsewhere. She refused to do so. She is not interested in having a dialogue. She had her little diatribe and that was that. NO ONE is so special that they can make sweeping, erroneous statements without recourse.
I know that you anti-vaccination activists have a lot of other anti-vaccination friends online. But the fact of the matter is that 94% of people are still vaccinating. You’re a blip on the radar. You’re the new “trendy” thing to be against. But when it comes down to it, all but a handful of people are intelligent enough to realize that:
1) there is NOT a global conspiracy of scientists and doctors trying to poison your children
2) a few bad nurses or doctors do not discount the whole of the scientific method; nor are the opinions of a few more valid than the opinions of millions
 3) researching vaccines on Google is NOT equal to going to post-secondary education for 10+ years to be a physician, pediatrician, immunologist or what have you.
The Patriot Nurse is not a martyr. She is a nurse who is expected to uphold the ideals and principles of her nursing organization and employer. And seeing as those things adhere to evidence-based medicine – and she doesn’t – she now has a problem. She brought it on herself. It was her choice not to vaccinate, and it their choice (and DUTY to the public) to deal with her how they see fit.

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