Immunizations: A nursing tradition

The fall and winter seasons are filled with traditions associated with Back to School, Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and other holidays. Immunizations, for influenza in particular, should be included as a tradition.

As influenza season progresses, it’s important that all healthcare professionals, including RNs, are adequately protected so they do not spread disease to their patients. And, providing health care to others puts professionals at high risk for exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases and infections.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) Position Statement on Immunizations, cites the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements that nurses have an “ethical responsibility to model the same health maintenance and health promotion measures that they teach and research,” meaning nurses should set the example and also be immunized if they expect patients and families to be protected. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “annual seasonal influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, including children and adolescents.”

Nurses play a vital role in recommending vaccines to their patients, as well as their own family and friends. If the facility where the nurse works does not stock vaccines, refer patients to other resources such as the school nurse, community centers, or local pharmacies. Although the nasal spray flu vaccine will not be available during 2016-2017, the flu shot is available for all ages. Address concerns that patients may have and challenge myths. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Vaccination remains the best available prevention measure against influenza.”

For the most up-to-date information regarding influenza, visit the CDC’s website.

Ruth Francis is senior policy advisor in the Department of Nursing Practice & Work Environment at ANA.

Selected references

American Nurses Association. Position Statement on Immunizations. 2015.

American Academy of Pediatrics. Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2016–2017. 2016.

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