Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nurses Essential in Ensuring All Children are Protected with Immunization

Nurses Essential in Ensuring All Children are Protected with Immunization
National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder
 that we all need vaccines throughout our lives.

Parents consider healthcare professionals one of the most trusted sources in answering questions and addressing concerns about their child’s health. A recent survey on parents’ attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors regarding vaccines for young children – including vaccine safety and trust – found that 82 percent of parents consider pediatric health care professionals to be one of their most trusted sources of vaccine information. With so many parents relying on the advice of health care professionals about vaccines, a nurse’s recommendation plays a key role in guiding parents’ vaccination decisions.

“Because nurses are often the ones administering vaccines, it makes their expertise, knowledge, and advice vital in creating a safe and trusted environment for discussing childhood immunizations,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “How you communicate with parents during routine pediatric visits is critical for fostering parental confidence in the decision to vaccinate their children.”

The survey also found that 71 percent of parents were confident or very confident in the safety of routine childhood immunizations, although parents’ most common question is what side effects they should look for after vaccination. Twenty-five percent are concerned that children get too many vaccines in one doctor’s visit and 20 percent of survey participants are concerned that vaccines may cause autism.

“Reinforcing that vaccines are safe and effective can go a long way towards assuring parents that they are doing the best thing for their children,” says Patsy Stinchfield, a pediatric nurse practitioner who represents the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. “One of the best ways you can establish trust with parents is by asking open-ended questions to help identify and address concerns they may have about vaccines. Also, restate their questions and acknowledge concerns with empathy.”

Make sure to address questions or concerns by tailoring responses to the level of detail the parent is looking for. Some parents may be prepared for a fairly high level of detail about vaccines – how they work and the diseases they prevent –while others may be overwhelmed by too much science and may respond better to a personal example of a patient you’ve seen with a vaccine-preventable disease. A strong recommendation from you as a nurse can also make parents feel comfortable with their decision to vaccinate.

For all parents, it’s important to address the risks of the diseases that vaccines prevent. It’s also imperative to acknowledge the risks associated with vaccines and highlight the benefits of vaccines. Parents are seeking balanced information. Never state that vaccines are risk-free, and always discuss the known side effects caused by vaccines.

If a parent chooses not to vaccinate, keep the lines of communication open and revisit their decision at a future visit. Make sure parents are aware of the risks and responsibilities they need to take on, such as informing schools and child care facilities that their child is unimmunized, and being careful to stay aware of any disease outbreaks that occur in their communities. If you build a trusting relationship over time with parents, they may reconsider their vaccination decision.

To help communicate about vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccines, and vaccine safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have partnered to develop Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations with Parents. These materials include vaccine safety information, fact sheets on vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, and strategies for successful vaccine conversations with parents. They are free and available online at

A parent's baby’s well-child visits can be stressful for the parent and their child, but there are ways to make them go easier. Get useful tips for soothing their baby when they gets shots by visiting CDC’s vaccine website for parents:
A special thank you and acknowledgement to the National Public Health Information Coalition and the CDC for providing the above information and resources.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Helping Mothers to Have a Healthy Start: Pregnancy and Vaccines

During pregnancy, parents are often thinking about baby names, nursery colors, and prenatal vitamins, but healthcare providers need to remind them to think about vaccines. Vaccines are an important component of a healthy pregnancy. Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant, and should receive vaccines against both the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) during pregnancy. These vaccines not only protect the mother by preventing illnesses and complications, but also pass on vaccine protection to her unborn child.

Women who are planning to become pregnant may need to receive some vaccines before the start of pregnancy. These vaccines may need to be administered a number of weeks before a woman becomes pregnant so that she is adequately protected. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, can lead to significant complications, including birth defects.

Pregnancy is a good opportunity to start learning about the safe, proven disease protection that vaccines will provide to their babies once they are born. Pregnant women should also plan on receiving the flu and whooping cough vaccines during each pregnancy. Pregnant women are at an increased risk for complications from the flu. The flu shot helps to protect a pregnant woman and her unborn child from the flu as well as lessen her symptoms if she does contract it. A flu shot also allows the mother to pass antibodies on to her newborn for some early flu protection. By getting a whooping cough vaccine in the third trimester, the mother also develops antibodies and passes them on to her baby so that her baby is born with protection against whooping cough.

Help mom get off to a healthy start by making sure that a her immunizations are up to date before becoming pregnant.

· Before becoming pregnant, a woman should be up-to-date on routine adult vaccines to help protect her and her child from vaccine-preventable diseases like rubella.

· Live vaccines should be given at least one month before pregnancy; vaccines received during pregnancy should be inactivated.

· It is very important for women to be up to date on their measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before becoming pregnant. Rubella infection in pregnant women can cause unborn babies to have serious birth defects with devastating, life-long consequences, or death.
Women can have a pre-pregnancy blood test to see if they are immune to the disease. They probably received the MMR vaccine as a child, but they should confirm this with their.

If a woman needs to get an MMR vaccine, they should avoid becoming pregnant until one month after receiving the MMR vaccine and, ideally, not until their immunity is confirmed by a blood test.

Vaccines protect mothers against serious diseases and prevent them from passing diseases on to their baby after birth.

· Pregnant women are at high risk of serious flu complications and are more likely to become severely ill with the flu than women who are not pregnant.
o Getting the flu while pregnant increases an expectant mother's chances for serious problems, including premature labor and delivery.

o Getting a flu shot is the best way to be protected from the flu and prevent possible flu-associated pregnancy complications. When pregnant women get flu shots, they and their babies (after birth) get the flu less often.
· Whooping cough can lead to serious complications or be deadly for babies.
o Whooping cough can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications in babies, especially within the first six months of life. About half of babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital.

o Receiving the whooping cough vaccine during the third trimester allows for the most antibodies to be passed on to the baby so he/she is born with protection.

o Two studies from the United Kingdom have shown whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy to be at least 90% effective in preventing whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months.

The vaccines a mother receives during pregnancy will provide her baby with some disease protection (immunity) that will last the first few months of life.

· By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, mothers can pass antibodies to their baby that may help protect against diseases.

· Infants in the first several months of life are at the greatest risk of severe illness from influenza and whooping cough but are too young to be immunized. This is why vaccination during pregnancy is so critical to help protect them.

· When an expectant mother gets a whooping cough vaccine and flu vaccine during a pregnancy, they will also have antibodies against these diseases in their breast milk that they can share with their baby as soon as their milk comes in.

During pregnancy, parents can start learning about the safe, proven disease protection that vaccines provide for their baby.

· Vaccinating children according to the recommended schedule is one of the best ways parents can protect their children from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

· Families, health care professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community – especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated themselves.

· Children who don’t receive recommended vaccines are at risk of getting the disease or illness, having a severe case of the disease or illness, and passing it on to others in their communities who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have a medical condition.

· We as healthcare providers can’t predict or know in advance if an unvaccinated child will get a vaccine-preventable disease, nor can we predict or know how severe the illness will be or become. Most young parents in the United States have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like polio, measles or whooping cough can have on a family or community. It’s easy to think of these as diseases of the past. But the truth is they still exist, and they can spread especially in pockets of unvaccinated children.

· Parents can learn more at CDC’s vaccine website for parents: 

Breastfeeding moms can also receive some vaccinations.

· Antibodies are transferred to babies during pregnancy, and also through breastfeeding. A mother can pass antibodies against diseases she has had in the past, and those she has been vaccinated against, through her breast milk.

· When breastfeeding, women can receive the flu vaccine. Either the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine is safe.

· When a mother receives a whooping cough vaccine during her pregnancy, she will have antibodies in her breast milk that she can share with her baby as soon as your milk comes in if she is breastfeeding. However, the baby will not get protective antibodies immediately if the mother waits to get the vaccine until after delivering her baby. This is because it takes about two weeks for the mother's body to create antibodies against whooping cough (and the flu).

OB/GYN TdapInfluenza Vaccination Referral Letter Resource
The Arizona Partnership for Immunization has developed an inactivated vaccine referral/follow up form (for pregnant patients) if practices does not do on site vaccination. Providers can download the Microsoft Word document and amend to fit their needs from this link. Patients can then give the form to Pharmacists and/or Vaccine Clinic where they will be receiving the necessary immunizations.

If you would like more information about pregnancy and vaccines to share with patients, expectant parents and colleagues, please visit the following resources:

CDC: Vaccines and Pregnancy flyers, guidance, recommendations, videos
CDC: Pregnant Women & Influenza (Flu) – Spanish Langauge guidance, recommendation, infographic, fact sheets
A special thank you and acknowledgement to the National Public Health Information Coalition and the CDC for providing the above information and resources.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Do you have a preteen or teen? Protect their future with vaccines.

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder
 that we all need vaccines throughout our lives.

Taking them to their sports physical, making sure they eat healthy and get plenty of sleep … you know these are crucial to your adolescent’s health. But did you also you know your preteens and teens need vaccines to stay healthy and protected against serious diseases?

As they get older, preteens and teens are at increased risk for some infections. Plus the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so preteens need a booster dose. You may have heard about whooping cough (pertussis) outbreaks recently. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still around and very real. The vaccines for preteens and teens can help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community, and other family members.

There are four vaccines recommended for all preteens at ages 11 to 12Teens may also need a booster dose of one of the shots or get any shots they may have missed. You can use any health care visit, including sports or camp physicals, checkups or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need. The vaccines recommended for preteen and teen girls and boys are:

·         Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against four types of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis – a serious infection around the brain and spinal cord – in teens and young adults.

·         HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. HPV can cause future cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women and cancers of the penis in men. In both women and men, HPV also causes mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer, anal cancer and genital warts.

·         Tdap vaccine, which is a booster shot against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis (whooping cough) can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks. It can also be spread to babies who are too young to be vaccinated, and this disease can be very dangerous and sometimes deadly for babies.

·         Influenza (flu) vaccine, because even healthy kids can get the flu, and it can be serious. All kids, including your preteens and teens, should get the flu vaccine every year. Parents should also get vaccinated to protect themselves and to help protect their children.

Talk with your child’s health care professional to find out which vaccines your preteens and teens need. Vaccines are a crucial step in keeping your kids healthy.

Want to learn more about the vaccines for preteens and teens? Check out or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

Resources for Parents
 CDC: Preteens Need Vaccines Too CDC: School Starts Soon – Is Your Child Fully Vaccinated? CDC: Preteen and Teen Vaccines CDC: HPV Portal  CDC: Easy-to-Read Immunization Schedule Age 7-18 – English & Spanish

A special thank you and acknowledgement to the National Public Health Information Coalition for providing the above information and resources.