Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Are You Up To Date On Your Shots? 4035

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Are You Up To Date On Your Shots?

In the last couple of years, you’ve been busy. You’ve probably worked longer hours while juggling more tasks at home. Some routine tasks, like preventive medical appointments and immunizations, may have fallen to the bottom of your to-do list. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 4 in 10 American adults avoided medical care in 2020 because of concerns related to COVID-19.

“I’ve seen many reports that immunizations for kids are down because people were missing appointments,” said Chad Rittle, DNP, MPH, RN, FAAOHN, Associate Professor of Nursing at Chatham University. “If you’re not taking your children, are you going to take yourself? There is more focus on immunizations for kids compared to adults — but adult vaccinations are just as important.”

Now is as good of a time as any to catch up on missed or delayed vaccinations. Check with your primary care provider to see which vaccines you may need based on your age and risk factors. The CDC recommends the following vaccinations for employees in a healthcare field who are at risk for exposure to serious, sometimes deadly diseases:
  • COVID-19
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, & Rubella)
  • Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
Not sure which vaccines you might need? Us the CDC's Vaccine Assessment tool.

The Upcoming Flu Season

In terms of timing, the CDC states that September and October are the ideal months to get a flu vaccine. In a perfect situation, everyone eligible for the flu shot would be vaccinated by the end of October — just as flu season starts to accelerate.

Immunizations and Patient Safety
Nurses especially need to prioritize their own immunizations because it plays a direct role in patient safety. Many patients who are hospitalized have comorbidities like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or respiratory conditions. If a nurse contracts and passes on the flu virus, it could have serious (even fatal) consequences for these higher-risk patients.

“The code of ethics for nurses is to do no harm,” said Chad. “If nurses aren’t protecting themselves against illnesses like the flu, they’re also not protecting their family members, friends, and patients.”

Another reason getting the flu shot (and routine immunizations) is crucial for nurses is the opportunity it provides for education. Nurses are one of the most trusted professions, and patients look to them as examples. A nurse has the full scope of their patient’s health history and risks, and they can use this knowledge to educate patients on the importance of vaccines.

“If a nurse can explain the comorbidities and higher risk of severe illness to patients, they can better explain why the patient needs the vaccine,” said Chad. “The nurse can look at the patient and say, ‘You need this vaccine because of all of the reasons I just shared.’”

In nursing, you should never pass up the opportunity to educate. And as Chad also stated, you should “never pass up the opportunity to vaccinate.”

How can you advocate vaccines amongst your patients? Access tools and resources here and meet a nurse who experienced the life-or-death impact of immunizations first hand, and see how she turned her passion to advocacy in this #healthynurse spotlight

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Reviewed/Updated 8/1/23
Blog Safety 10/11/2021 9:58am CDT

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