To maximize the health and well-being of our communities, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) supports the timely and complete immunization of all children and adults in its updated NAPNAP Position Statement on Immunizations. Completing the evidence-based routine childhood immunization process as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps prevent illnesses and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Nationally, vaccination coverage dropped below 94 percent for routine vaccine series with as many as 37 million vaccine doses being missed leaving large groups of children susceptible to diseases that can be life-threatening. The first polio case in the United States in nearly a decade was recently reported, highlighting the need to keep up with vaccination schedules in order to prevent outbreaks and public health crises.
The CDC’s Committee on Infectious Diseases (CID) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) meet multiple times throughout the year to review and recommend vaccination doses and schedules for numerous diseases. These critical reviews allow the CDC to establish guidelines for immunization schedules based on evidence-based recommendations. NAPNAP endorses the childhood and adolescent schedules set by the CDC and recognizes the best way to protect children and families from vaccine-preventable infectious diseases is by encouraging parents to follow the recommended immunization schedules.
“Vaccines save lives,” said NAPNAP President Jennifer Sonney, PhD, APRN, PPCNP-BC, FAANP. “It is important that pediatric providers consider every patient encounter an opportunity to counsel patients and families about the safety and efficacy of immunizations and thoughtfully address any vaccine hesitancy.”
To improve individual patient outcomes and public health in general, clinicians can ensure adherence to immunization schedules by keeping health records up to date, implementing practices such as callback systems or electronic notifications and conducting ongoing evaluation and modification of best practices. Related to advocacy, health care providers can lead conversations using their experience to stress safety, efficacy and necessity, participate in policy change initiatives and support the National Immunization Strategic Plan 2021-25. It is also imperative that providers counter misinformation in their communities and on social media to provide relevant, medically accurate information about vaccines.
This position statement was published in the July/August edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care which can be accessed here.