The Nursing Initiative Promoting Immunization Training (NIP-IT) was made possible by a cooperative agreement between the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, a National League Center of Excellence in Nursing Education since 2006, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This innovative and creative web-based curriculum about immunizations and vaccine preventable diseases is intended to inform and educate nursing students and nurses nationwide.
Today's generation did not experience the disease outbreaks of our recent ancestors. Before vaccines, contagious disease outbreaks affected most families. Families lost infants from Diphtheria, healthy young adults died suddenly from Spanish Influenza and older adults passed away from Pneumococcal pneumonia. We now understand the impact of diseases much better, but are we losing the memory of their impact? The accomplishments of vaccines can be appreciated when you know more about infectious diseases and the immune system that makes immunization possible.
Amazing scientific discoveries by vaccine pioneers, such as Edward Jenner and Jonas Salk, led to the development of vaccines that in turn have eradicated the dreaded diseases of small pox and polio in the United States. Today, we have an arsenal of different types of vaccines that protect against both viruses and bacteria. We have a dynamic vaccine schedule that provides immunization at critical ages across the lifespan. In order for our nation to meet the established goals for vaccination coverage, it is vital nurses understand the vaccines and the recommended schedule.
There are many barriers to immunization including lack of knowledge, false beliefs, negative attitudes, and concerns about vaccine safety which influence decisions about vaccinations. Other barriers to immunization include lack of access, including time, transportation and cost. Nurses need to know the barriers to immunization in order to be able to address them. Nurses, through their unique roles as educator, advocate, change agent and coordinator of care, are able to increase knowledge, dispel false beliefs, and advocate for access.
Nurses are an essential component in meeting the recommended immunization goals for the United States. Nurses fill a variety of key roles: educator, advocate, change agent and coordinator of care. These roles require specialized knowledge and skills in order for the nurse to provide accurate knowledge, correct misperceptions and influence public attitudes towards vaccination. Nurses also need to know their responsibilities to be immunized.
Administration of vaccination takes several forms. Intramuscular injections are the route for many vaccinations, but some require a subcutaneous injection. The influenza vaccine, LAIV, can be administered as a nasal spray and small pox vaccine has a unique method of administration. Nurses need to be proficient in the administration of vaccines in order to maintain patient safety.
The anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001 opened our eyes to the potential impact of bioterrorism on the health care infrastructure of our country. Seven envelopes containing anthrax led to 30,000 people receiving prophylactic antibiotics. Additionally, fear of an influenza pandemic galvanized public health planners to develop mass immunization and prophylactic plans. Preplanning for sites and personnel, including nurses, enables communities to provide either an immunization or prophylactic antibiotics for every citizen in response to acts of bioterrorism or emerging diseases.