On October 11 2016, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia responded to a number of complaints regarding anti-vaccination material and advice being disseminated by registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and registered midwives, by publishing a new position statement on anti-vaccination misinformation:
NMBA position on nurses, midwives and vaccination
The NMBA has become aware that there are a small number of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives who are promoting anti-vaccination statements to patients and the public via social media which contradict the best available scientific evidence. The NMBA is taking this opportunity to make its expectations about providing advice on vaccinations clear to registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives.
The NMBA recognises the Australian National Immunisation Handbook 10th edition as providing evidence-based advice to health professionals about the safe and effective use of vaccines and the public health benefits associated with vaccination. The NMBA supports the use of the handbook by registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives who are giving vaccines. The handbook is available from the Immunise Australia Program website.
The NMBA expects all registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives to use the best available evidence in making practice decisions. This includes providing information to the public about public health issues.
All registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives are required to practise in accordance with professional standards set by the NMBA, including the codes of conduct, codes of ethics and the standards for practice, in particular the social media policy and the guidelines for advertising regulated health services.
What should I do if I notice a nurse or midwife is promoting anti-vaccination material?
If you have concerns about a nurse or midwife you can make a complaint to AHPRA. The NMBA will consider whether the nurse or midwife has breached their professional obligations and will treat these matters seriously. Any published anti-vaccination material and/or advice which is false, misleading or deceptive which is being distributed by a registered nurse, enrolled nurse or midwife (including via social media) may also constitute a summary offence under the National Law and could result in prosecution by AHPRA.
The earliest complaint against an anti-vaccine nurse-midwife that I am aware of was submitted 6years ago. There have been several complaints since then.
The Board’s action, (if issuing a position statement can be called ‘action’), is far too little far too late.
I agree Ken. The Board has issued a very flaccid statement and doesn’t appear at all committed to ensuring their registrants are complying with their standards.