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Vaccinations are a crucial part of keeping children healthy.

At birth, infants have


protection against certain diseases because of the antibodies passed on from the
mother to the child through the placenta. After birth, infants that are breastfed are
additionally protected by antibodies present in breast milk. However in both these
cases, the protection is only temporary (Cohen, 2005). By vaccinating, parents and
health care providers can help keep children healthier from birth to adulthood.
For every parent its one of the first decisions that you must make when you have
a child, but how many of us really know the pros and cons of vaccinations? Sure,
doctors tell us that they are safe but most Americans do not even know exactly what a
vaccination is. When asked, they simply reply that vaccinations are shots to make sure
their children are healthy.
Immunizations, also called vaccinations, are methods of creating immunity to
certain diseases by introducing small amounts of killed or weakened bacteria or viruses
that cause particular illnesses. Vaccines can also be made from toxins produced by
disease organism. These toxins are altered with heat or chemicals to reduce toxicity but
still retain enough function to produce an immunologic effect (Cohen, 2005). Once
introduced into the body, vaccines induce the immune system to produce active
antibodies to protect people from those certain diseases. In many cases though, the
immunity does not last forever and the amount of circulating antibodies can decrease
over time. For this reason, it is important for children to receive additional immunizations
against the same disease. Booster Shots, these additional immunizations,
administered at predetermined intervals, help the body maintain a high enough level of
antibodies to continue to protect from disease (Cohen, 2005). Everyday we make our
kids wash their hand to keep the bacteria away, but those who choose to vaccinate, are
injecting their own children with the very thing we try to keep them away from.
Vaccinations are not 100% effective and that is one of the reasons why parents argue
that their child should not be vaccinated (McNeil, Donald G. 2002). Parents dont want to
put their child through the pain of the injection, when it may not even work for their child.
Another reason why some opt out of vaccinations are for religious and spiritual reasons.
There are claims that childhood vaccinations are linked to autism in children as well, but
there is no medical proof to back this claim up.
If children are not immunized, they are at risk for contracting and spreading many
serious illnesses. Vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that
had routinely killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults in the past. Polio,
caused by a virus, causes acute paralysis that can lead to permanent disability and
death. Thanks to worldwide vaccination efforts, the number of victims of polio mostly
children had declined from more than 350,000 cases in 125 countries in 1988 to 2,000

cases of polio in 17 countries in 2006. Currently, polio has been eliminated from the
Western hemisphere and from the European and Western Pacific regions (Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). Smallpox, an acute infectious disease caused
by the Variola viruses, was one of the worlds most feared diseases until it was
eradicated in 1979 by an extensive global vaccination program led by the World Health
Organization. Prior to its elimination, smallpox caused death in as many as 30 percent
of those infected. Highly contagious, it threatened 60 percent of the worlds population.
Due to aggressive vaccination programs, the last known natural case of smallpox
occurred in 1977 in Somalia and the last death from smallpox occurred in 1978 following
a laboratory accident in England. Today, the last known strains of the viruses are
contained in one of two laboratories in the world one in the United States and one in
Russia (World Health Organization, 2008). Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib) was
the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in United States infants in children
before the Hib vaccine was made available. One in every 200 U.S. children under the
age of 5 contracted Hib meningitis and it killed up to 600 children each year while
leaving many survivors with deafness, seizures, or mental retardation. Once the Hib
vaccine was introduced in 1987, the incidence of Hib has declined by 98 percent; there
were less than 10 fatal cases of Hib meningitis reported from 1994 to 1998 (Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).
Unfortunately, the viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases, and many
others, still exist and can be contracted by people who were not immunized. It is very
important for nurses and doctors alike to ensure that parents and caregivers are given
proper information regarding the importance of vaccinating their children. Though most
parents believe in the benefits of immunization for their children, it is possible for health
care providers to encounter parents who question the need for or safety of childhood
vaccines. Myths such as vaccines cause autism, the mercury in vaccines harm
children, and Hepatitis B vaccines cause SIDS can cause parents to choose to delay
or forgo immunizing their children with some or all of the recommended vaccines
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).
To assist parents in making fully informed decisions, nurses should try to
understand differing views of vaccine risks and benefits and be prepared to respond
effectively to concerns and questions. Prior to teaching parents about the benefits and
risks of vaccinating their children, the nurse must first assess the parents readiness to
learn. Barriers to communication must be identified and addressed. The nurse must
also be aware of appropriate routes of administration for each vaccine and educate
accordingly. While most immunizations administered parenterally, certain
immunizations are given subcutaneously while others are administered intramuscularly

(Immunization Action Coalition, 2008). Parents should be taught about the


recommended immunization schedule developed by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention and the rational behind the recommended vaccinations. For example,
Hepatitis B immunizations begin at birth; the first dose of the HepB vaccine is
administered to all newborns prior to discharge. The second HepB vaccination is
administered at age 12 months and the third and final dose is administered when the
child is aged 6 months to 18 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
2008). The nurse should also educate the parents about catch-up immunizations for
children who started immunizations late or fall behind on the recommended schedule.
Parents should be taught about the potential risks and side effects associated
with vaccinations however the nurse should do her best to assist the parents with
understanding that despite the potential adverse effects, it is almost always more
beneficial to immunize the child than to forgo immunizing (Bowden & Greenfield, 2007).
If an adverse effect does occur from the vaccine, the nurse or other health care provider
should report the adverse event, as appropriate, to the Vaccine Adverse Report System
(Bowden & Greenfield, 2007). The most common adverse effects include fever, redness
or swelling at the injection site, and soreness or tenderness at the injection site and
these do not need to be reported (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).
More serious side effects are possible and parents must be instructed to contact the
health care provider or seek immediate medical care if the child experiences a fever
greater than 105F, seizure, change in level of consciousness, collapse, shock-like state,
or persistent or inconsolable crying lasting more than three hours (Bowden &
Greenfield, 2007). These can indicated serious medical emergencies.
While immunizations are generally considered safe, there are instances in which
vaccinations are contraindicated. It is important for nurses to know the contraindications
associated with each particular vaccine and address these issues with the parents or
caregivers. The most common contraindication to any vaccine is previous anaphylaxis to
the vaccine or to any of the vaccines components. The nurse must indicate to parents
or caregivers signs and symptoms of allergic reaction to any vaccine so as to prevent
more serious reactions (Immunization Action Coalition, 2008).
When helpful, creating a teaching poster can help facilitate the nurse to educate
clients and colleagues alike about the importance of keeping children immunized.
Utilizing sources such as websites for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
Immunization Action Coalition, the nurse should be able to find ample information to
provide to others. The use of color helps to make the information stand out and more
easily read. By using the most current information and indicating the relevancy of the
information, the nurse provides the best education for the client. The most important

aspect of the teaching poster is organization. Keeping the poster organized makes the
information more easily understood. Allowing peers to review the efficacy of the poster
enables the nurse to gain feedback. Anonymous comments such as Good use of color
and graphs and Like that you indicated this is for 2008 can be helpful for future
projects.
Having your child vaccinated helps the community to stay healthier, because
there are some that cannot be vaccinated, either for medical reasons, or that they are
too old or still to young. Vaccines are held to the highest standard of safety.
(Importance of Childhood Vaccinations. 2007) In the end, the only real argument to have
your vaccinations is that they keep you healthy, but does there need to be anymore
reason than that? I believe that children should have their childhood vaccinations. It
keeps everyone a little safer than if they didnt have them. Before vaccinations came
along, hundreds of people died from what we call today simple diseases or childhood
diseases, all because they didnt have the vaccinations that we have today. They use to
have plagues, and I for one do not want something like that to happen again. Medical
research has come along way and I fully believe that we should advantage of it and its
offerings. In my opinion if every child was vaccinated then sickness and diseases will
become less and less, like they have been over the past few hundred years.