2021 COVID Vaccine Comments Lead to Suspension of New Zealand Nurse

A New Zealand nurse named Debra Green has been suspended for three months and fined $18,000 after being charged with professional misconduct. The charges stemmed from comments she made during an anti-Covid vaccine mandate protest in 2021.

Green claimed in an interview that she had witnessed numerous adverse vaccine reactions, that unvaccinated patients were being segregated, and that her colleagues were “blind” to the issue.

The Health Practitioner’s Disciplinary Tribunal found that Green had brought “discredit to the profession” and had the potential to undermine public trust in the healthcare system and nursing profession. Green’s nurse registration was suspended, and she was ordered to complete two courses, obtain professional supervision for 12 months, and disclose the tribunal’s decision to any current or potential employers if she wishes to continue practicing.

The tribunal did not assess the factual accuracy of Green’s comments but ruled that they lacked sincerity and meaningful content. Green defended her comments as free expression but apologized for exaggerating her concerns. The tribunal determined that while freedom of expression was engaged, it was not protected under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act due to Green’s professional responsibilities during a public health emergency.

The charges against Green were filed after seven complaints were made against her, including one accusing her of spreading misinformation. This suspension follows a similar case involving Dr. Mitch Sambell, who was suspended and ordered to receive education on medical ethics and infection control for criticizing Covid-19 vaccines and mask mandates in Western Australia.

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By Kate Stephenson
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