Across the U.S, retired nurses in their droves are stepping up to help administer the Covid-19 vaccination. In other scenarios, nurses are delaying retirement in order to remain working during this very difficult time.
One such nurse, Judy Schneider recently spoke to NBC News.
“I didn’t think anything would make me want to come back,” Schneider said, “But then Covid happened, the vaccine rollout happened, and I realized I could help. After months of being quarantined, it’s exciting to be able to help.”
It is less than two years since she left her job at a North Carolina hospital, after over 29 years working as a nurse. She is now on the front lines of the pandemic giving people shots of the vaccine.
At the age of 65, she had planned to travel in her retirement. Covid clearly put a stop to that and has now brought her back into the medical field.
“This is the best nursing job I’ve ever had,” she said. “The people coming in for the vaccines are hospital workers and they are so happy, so thrilled, to be getting it. That makes it fun.”
Her story is not unusual. It is now an all-hands-on-deck approach to rolling out the vaccine across the U.S.
Ensuring there are enough qualified people available to administer the shots is an ongoing issue and one that the Department of Health and Human Services has attempted to address by amending the rules.
Now, any physician or registered nurse in any state or U.S. territory can administer the vaccine if they are available to do so. Nurses such as Judy Schneider are making themselves available.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) change in regulation means that health care providers whose licenses or certifications have expired within the past five years, (as long as they were in good standing prior to the date it went inactive), are now eligible to administer the Covid-19 vaccine.
Acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran said in a statement:
“As vaccine supply is made more widely available over the coming months, having additional vaccinators at the ready will help providers and state health departments meet the demand for vaccine and protect their communities more quickly.”
Florida and Maryland have been quick to take advantage of the new rules. Broward County has enlisting retired nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals to help with the rollout.
The TidalHealth Peninsula Regional Hospital in the city of Salisbury received a hugely positive response after it sent out word to retired nurses. Within days nurses with a combined level of experience of 241 years had volunteered.
Also, on Long Island, New York, a large number of retired nurses have answered the needs of the local hospitals.
As the need for more nurses to help with the vaccine becomes apparent, these stories are being repeated right across the U.S.
It is a reason to feel proud and optimistic. Maybe we really are seeing light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel at last.