- All four nurses in one Kansas county's health department refused to give patients COVID-19 vaccines.
- The health department administrator shared debunked vaccine misinformation as part of their reasoning.
- The county will contract with other nurses to distribute the vaccine.
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All four nurses working in the health department of Coffey County in Kansas said they wouldn't give people the COVID-19 vaccine, a sign of how misinformation about the shots is spreading even among health professionals.
In a January 4 county commission meeting, health department administrator Lindsay Payer said that they were not willing to give the COVID-19 vaccine, The Daily Beast reported.
"My staff is not comfortable with that. It's a new technology we've never seen before," Payer told the Board of Commissioners in the meeting, which is available on YouTube.
MRNA vaccines, like those being distributed now for the coronavirus, have been studied since the 1990s.
Payer said that she and other nurses in the department were uncomfortable with the vaccines and unsure of their safety, citing inaccurate information about the shots. She told the board that the health department would hire outside nurses who were willing to distribute the vaccine.
Coronavirus vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna were studied in tens of thousands of people. Pfizer's late stage trial, for instance, included more than 43,000 people. The vaccines weren't rushed - countries and organizations invested heavily in all stages of the development process, saving time. Scientists were also able to build on previous work on vaccines for MERS and SARS, which are also coronaviruses.
Data on both vaccines was scrutinized by the US Food and Drug Administration before the agency issued emergency-use authorizations for the injections. FDA found that the shots were highly effective and safe for most people to take.
As of January 13, Payer and other Coffey County health department nurses had not changed their minds. She told 13 News in Topeka that it was a personal decision for each nurse, not a message for or against getting the vaccine.
County Medical Officer Dr. Jeff Sloyer refuted Payer's misinformation in the next meeting.
"Both of these vaccines were very well studied," he said, according to Topeka's 13 News.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment shared a statement with 13 News on the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
"The data demonstrate that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with COVID-19," the department said.