In accordance with Provision 2 of the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics, the nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, community, or population. With the uprising of the anti-vaccination movement, it is becoming more common to encounter patients who have not been vaccinated in the clinical setting. This creates an ethical dilemma on the part of providers who must decide whether or not to treat the patient knowing the risks to both the patient and others in the community.
Parents and Vaccination Schedules. https://factographs.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/vaccination-nation/
Vaccines contribute to herd immunity. Herd immunity helps to protect vulnerable populations, such as those who are unable to develop an immune response or those with chronic conditions. If everyone in the community who is able to be vaccinated receives a vaccine, this decreases the chance of infection transmission within the community. If providers allow patients who are not vaccinated into their practice, they may spread the infection to other patients. However, providers who do not treat these patients may be denying necessary care and disrespecting patient autonomy.
How Vaccinations Work. http://www.sott.net/image/s10/208688/full/la_me_g_school_vaccines_herd_2.png
Let's take a look into a real life example of this ethical dilemma.
Now, let's listen in as mom Sydney talks to her friend Sky, who is in nursing school and provides some perspective on the ethical dilemma nurses face when choosing to provide or not provide care.
So, if a nurse practitioner refuses to treat a patient because they are not vaccinated, could that be a violation of Provision 2 of the ANA Code of Ethics? Or is the nurse practitioner abiding by the Code because they are committed to a community/population of patients? That's up to you to decide.
References: https://factographs.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/vaccination-nation/; http://www.sott.net/image/s10/208688/full/la_me_g_school_vaccines_herd_2.png; http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2012/01/ccas3-1201.html