Nurses Educate Patients About Vaccines
Vaccines can help control the spread of disease. However, a movement against vaccinations has caused a resurgence in some illnesses such as measles. Because nurses are in direct contact with patients, they are in a position to explain the dangers of not vaccinating. They can also help educate the public on preventing the transmission of infection.
What Is a Vaccine?
A vaccine contains an inert or weakened form of a disease-causing virus or bacteria, or it may consist of a diluted toxin. It works by stimulating the body’s immune system to help prevent sickness. All vaccines in the United States are tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they become available to the public.
What Are the Types of Vaccines?
Vaccines are developed for a particular virus or bacteria, based on the immune system response to the infection. The different types of vaccines are:
How Does a Vaccine Work?
When a vaccine is administered to a patient, it produces antibodies that provide protection from specific diseases such as:
- Chicken pox
- Hepatitis A and B
- Human papillomavirus
- Meningococcal meningitis
- Whooping cough
Are There Side Effects?
Once a vaccine is given to a patient, the immune system builds antibodies that may trigger a mild reaction. The most common side effects associated with vaccination include:
- Soreness or swelling at the injection area
- Low-grade fever
- Temporary headache, fatigue, or loss of appetite
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists vaccines for infants, young children, adolescents, and adults. The organization also emphasizes that additional vaccines may be required for the following people:
- Nurses and other healthcare workers
- Members of the military
Why Is There Controversy Over Vaccines?
Misconceptions about vaccines began to take hold when studies linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism were published. However, the following recent studies provide evidence to the contrary.
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccination and Autism: A Nationwide Cohort Study
- Early exposure to the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines and risk of autism spectrum disorder
- Vaccines are not associated with autism: an evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies
What Can Nurses Do to Educate Patients About Vaccines?
Typically, nurses are the first to inform parents about vaccination schedules for their children. Nurses are obligated to provide written information to parents about the benefits and risks of each vaccine.
They should be attuned to the fears of parents and use evidence from research to alleviate any concerns. Additionally, nurses need to understand and identify why a parent may be resistant to vaccinations. The factors may include:
- Past experiences of family members or friends
- Belief that vaccines are harmful
- Social or peer pressure
- Religious or moral reasons
What Is the Protocol for Vaccine Administration?
Nurses are prepared to administer vaccinations and conduct a protocol established by their healthcare organization. In some cases, patients should not be vaccinated. This group may include patients who have a known allergy to the components of a vaccine, are moderate to severely ill, pregnant, or have a history of adverse effects. So, it is crucial that nurses screen and assess patients based on their vaccination history.
Vaccines help people live healthier and longer lives. Not vaccinating could lead to debilitating diseases that result in disabilities or death, and vaccines provide a cost-effective preventive measure. It is more expensive to treat a serious illness than provide a vaccine that prevents the illness. Nurses have a responsibility to educate patients about vaccines. This enables patients to not only safeguard their health, but also stop contagions from affecting others.
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