Nurses give a lot of vaccines. But they also need vaccines! By the nature of their work, nurses come into contact with many infectious diseases, the most notable of which is influenza. Vaccination is an important way to stay protected from contracting a disease at work.
But vaccination can also protect the nurse's patients and family. While at work, a nurse may unknowingly pass a disease on to the patient, especially when critically ill or the most vulnerable, such as newborns. In addition, if a nurse contracts an illness from work, he or she can pass it on to her family members.
Don't risk it - be vaccinated. Being vaccinated against all diseases, from measles to influenza to whooping cough, can prevent the transmission of disease and protect nurses, their patients, and their families!
Nurses have a responsibility to be up-to-date on recommended routine vaccines. An immunization promotes optimal health and protects patients and the community from vaccine preventable diseases. Nurses work in environments where they are exposed to many communicable diseases and infections, so it's especially important to have the following vaccines:
- Seasonal Influenza - get your influenza vaccine every fall!
- Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis (Tdap) - especially for nurses working with newborn or compromised infants
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
- Hepatitis B
Humanitarian and Military Recommendations
Nurses care for patients in a variety of settings outside of acute care hospitals such as during an international disaster. Humanitarian Aid relief health care providers require specific vaccines to avoid communicable preventable diseases. Nurses working for the military may also have different vaccination guidance based on their deployment or situation.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses infecting the nose, throat and lungs. Each year, influenza claims thousands of lives and is responsible for hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions from influenza and its complications.
ANA believes that nurses have a professional and ethical obligation to be immunized - it protects both the health of the nurse, and the health of her or his patients and community.
Nurses play a critical role during influenza prevention season by serving as vaccinators, educators, advocates, and role models for their patients as well as their colleagues. Vaccination of nurses, and other healthcare professionals, is strongly encouraged by both ANA and the CDC to protect both nurses and the patients whom they serve. Influenza vaccination of nurses not only reduces the disease burden in those vaccinated, but also has been shown to reduce the rate of influenza disease and overall mortality in the patients under their care. In 2007, the Joint Commission began requiring its accredited facilities to offer influenza vaccine to improve vaccination rates as a patient safety and quality initiative. Everyone, unless contraindications exist, over the age of six months should receive the seasonal influenza vaccine.
In an effort to reduce the spread of influenza this season, ANA strongly urges nurses to:
- Get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.
- Ensure your family and co-workers get vaccinated.
- Talk to your patients and community about the importance of vaccination.
- Use or create standing orders to administer vaccinations.
- Always use a safety needle - it's your right under the law.
- Observe meticulous hand-washing practices.
- View ANA’s Immunization Position Statement regarding immunizations for nurses and across the life span.
Help be a part of the solution. Be vaccinated this influenza season, and encourage your nursing colleagues to do the same. Let’s all unite to fight the flu!