March 24, 2021

Registered Nurses’ Union calls for transparency and a faster rollout of vaccines for health care workers

The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador (RNU) is calling for transparency and a faster rollout of vaccines for frontline health care workers.

“Registered nurses have been on the frontlines of this pandemic for over a year,” said Yvette Coffey, RNU President. “They’ve put themselves at risk and their families at risk. Now they anxiously wait for their turn to be vaccinated.”

Despite repeated requests by the union, the vaccination plan for Phase 2 has not been provided. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization asserts health care workers must receive the vaccine as soon as possible because of their high work-related risk of exposure. However, many registered nurses remain unvaccinated.

“We’ve asked repeatedly for a plan and data on the breakdown of health care workers who are vaccinated,” said Coffey. “We’re still waiting. You have registered nurses working on surgery floors, performing aerosol-generating procedures, treating patients and caring for vulnerable populations who have not received the vaccine. This is concerning for our members and their patients.”

A lack of communication and transparency regarding the vaccine rollout, by Eastern Health in particular, is creating significant frustration and anxiety among RNU members.

“There’s a lot of confusion regarding the approach being taken. Despite being on the frontline of this pandemic since day one and the toll it’s taken on their mental and physical health, registered nurses feel overlooked. They’re essential to the functioning of our health system and to us beating COVID-19, yet they feel forgotten. They deserve more,” said Coffey.

RNU is also urging the provincial government and regional health authorities (RHAs) to take all measures to prepare for the anticipated increase in vaccine supply. The successful rollout of the vaccine remains crucial to the objective of containing the virus and bringing the pandemic to an end. The province and RHAs must work collaboratively and transparently with unions and stakeholders to ensure rapid and equitable distribution of the vaccine as the rollout continues.

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Karyn Whelan

Communications

Registered Nurses’ Union

kwhelan@rnunl.ca, 691-0889