As the representative of more than 355,000 nursing staff and students, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has been working with the Department of Health to establish a strategy for dealing with infectious diseases in anticipation of war.
The RCN is opposed to mass smallpox vaccination, at this time, but recommends the immunization of key personnel at the frontline. We back the establishment of the two occupational health services to vaccinate frontline staff and 10 regional smallpox diagnosis and response groups. They consist of a staff of 250 and will play a crucial role in vaccinating any immediate casualties and immunizing other members of the public.
Based on analysis of the potential risk of bio-terrorism, we support the government's slow and measured roll out of the smallpox vaccine program. We will continue to ensure that nurses' play an important part in advising the government on issues of public concern.
The consequences of war can have many devastating results and the RCN believes that such conflicts should be avoided at all costs. RCN hopes a peaceful solution can be sought through organizations such as the United Nations with governments and other interested parties. At the core of any nurse's value system is the ability to treat patients and care for those that are vulnerable in society. Nurses would make every possible effort to continue these values in any type of situation that may arise.
Source: The Royal College of Nursing (RCN)