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