The American Nurses Association has issued a call for everyone, including RNs, to be immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases, with the only exemptions being for medical or religious reasons, according to a news release.
The ANA’s new position on immunization aligns with recommendations from the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a CDC panel of medical and public health experts that advises vaccine use. The CDC recognizes August as National Immunization Awareness month, and focuses on adult immunization Aug. 16-22 and child and infant immunization Aug. 23-29.
ANA’s re-examination of its position was prompted partly by outbreaks of measles cases this year that affected unvaccinated adults and children. “ANA’s new position aligns registered nurses with the best current evidence on immunization safety and preventing diseases such as measles,” ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, said in the release. “A critical component of a nurse’s job is to educate patients and their family members about the effectiveness of immunization as a safe method of disease prevention to protect not only individuals, but also the public health.”
The CDC said 183 people from more than 20 states were reported to have measles during the first seven months of 2015, with five outbreaks resulting in the majority of those cases. In 2000, the U.S. had declared that measles was eliminated from the country as a result of an effective measles vaccine and a strong vaccination program for children.
Healthcare personnel who request exemption for religious beliefs or medical contraindications should provide documentation from the appropriate authority supporting the request, according the release. Individuals who are granted exemption “may be required to adopt measures or practices in the workplace to reduce the chance of disease transmission” to patients and others, the new policy states.
ANA’s position on immunization for healthcare personnel aligns with the newly revised Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, which states RNs have an ethical responsibility to “model the same health maintenance and health promotion measures that they teach and research,” including immunization.
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