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March 20, 2019

By: Katrina Tate, RN

Vital importance of immunizations

As a nurse and new mother, there’s one topic that seems to be at the forefront of many conversations. Immunizations. Are you going to immunize? Are you not fearful of vaccinations? As most nurses can attest to, many friends and family want advice. Should I give my daughter the HPV vaccine? How do you feel about the hepatitis vaccine? The flu vaccine? To those who ask about whether I will choose vaccination, my likely answer is, yes. Yes, I will vaccinate my little one. Yes, I think you should as well.

Whether my role is mother or healthcare provider it’s important to be knowledgeable and stay up to date regarding vaccinations. This will allow me to help my patients make informed decisions based on factual information related to vaccinations. Fredrickson and colleagues have found that social media and large news outlets have unfortunately swayed many opinions on the safety of vaccinations. Sadly, these sources spotlight the rare incident of a child who had negative side effects following a vaccine. Although many times the evidence is unfounded, these stories draw attention. Attention equals higher ratings. Higher ratings, unfortunately, mean this misinformation is disseminated to larger populations of people. Fear then influences a parent’s decision to immunize.

It’s important in our role as nurses to provide reliable information and have informative conversations with parents who voice concerns regarding immunizations. When parents don’t get the answers or information they are seeking from their own healthcare provider the chances of them seeking answers elsewhere, for example, the Internet, television, greatly increase. We must seize each opportunity when it presents itself and be ready and current on recommendations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States currently has the safest vaccine supply in its history. Monitoring of vaccines begins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where safety and effectiveness are ensured before approval for use by the public. This monitoring is ongoing. Adverse reactions are followed and reported, any risk is weighed against the benefits.

The diseases that vaccines prevent are dangerous, often times deadly. When I make decisions that impact my health or that of my loved one, I weigh risks versus benefits. This includes my decision to vaccinate. I strongly feel that evidence has shown vaccines help develop immunity. I chose to give my little one and myself the best protection against these deadly diseases.

 

Katrina Tate works at Hendersonville Medical Center in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

 

Selected references

For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children. Making the vaccine decision. 2019.

cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/vaccine-decision/index.html

McKee C, Bohannon K. Exploring the reasons behind parental refusal of vaccines. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2016;21(2):104-109.

Fredrickson DD, Davis TC, Arnould CL, et al. Childhood immunization refusal: provider andperceptions.Fam Med. 2004;36(6):431-439.

One thought on “Vital importance of immunizations”

  1. Ayn McLaurin says:

    I have been an RN in public health for the last 5 years in a metro Atlanta county health department, and I have seen firsthand the good vaccines do, and the harm that can happen without them. Our county has seen cases of whooping cough in the last 3 years, and a neighboring county has had at least 4 confirmed cases of measles in the last few months. I have also seen children with birth defects because they were born in countries where vaccines are not common, and the mother contracted a preventable disease while pregnant. I have seen women referred for cervical cancer because they were sexually active before the HPV vaccine became a reality. I have seen parents who came to the US with nothing line up for over an hour to make sure their children got all their vaccines on time, because they have seen the damage these diseases can do in their home countries. I beg you — either get vaccinated or stay home. We’re all in this together.

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