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American Nurses Association Takes Action on Critical Public Health Issues

Shannon McClendon, 301-628-5391

Joan Hurwitz, 301-628-5020

SILVER SPRING, MD – Today, the representatives of the American Nurses Association (ANA) Membership Assembly acted on several compelling and critical issues focused on patient care and public health.

  • Vaccinations Exemptions: Given the recent surge of measles cases and potentially uncontrollable outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable illnesses, ANA no longer supports religious exemption as a reason to not get vaccinated. ANA believes that to protect the health of the public, all individuals should be immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Medical Aid in Dying: While nurses remain ethically prohibited from administering aid-in-dying medication, ANA recommends that nurses remain objective when patients are exploring this end-of-life option. Nurses have an ethical duty to be knowledgeable about this evolving issue and have the right to conscientiously object to being involved in the aid-in-dying process, among others.
  • Advocacy for DACA Nursing Students: ANA recommends that nursing students who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients – often called DREAMers – be allowed to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in all states without facing barriers. This action would also help increase diversity in the workforce and ease nursing shortages.
  • Human Trafficking: To help solve the public health crisis of human trafficking, ANA believes that nurses must have increased education on the use of effective patient screening tools; advocate for human trafficking protocols in all 50 states and U.S. territories; promote Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) education; provide trauma-informed care for victims and survivors; support awareness and preventions campaigns. Additionally, ANA’s Membership Assembly requests that the ANA Board of Directors create a national task force on the issue.

Nurses witness first-hand the devastation of these public health issues on the patients, families and communities they serve. Because nurses represent the nation’s largest group of health care professionals on the frontlines of care in nearly every setting, ANA calls on all nurses to remain vigilant in addressing these public health issues and many others.

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit

For high-resolution images of the ANA logo or photos of ANA leadership, please click here.

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