Parents are electing not to vaccinate their children increasing their child’s risk and risk to other children within the community.
What is the role of nurses as a healthcare professional in regards to vaccination. Nursing is one of the most highly regarded and trusted professions in Australia. Each year the Australian Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey is conducted and in 2014 found
A very large majority, 91% (up 1% to its highest since 2007) of Australians aged 14 and over rate Nurses as the most ethical and honest profession – the 20th year in a row since Nurses were first included on the survey in 1994.
Parents of children not vaccinated registered with the Australian government are recorded as being vaccine objectors based on grounds of personal, philosophical, religious or medical.
Parental concern against vaccination is multi factorial. Concerns voiced are regards potential allergic reactions, increased risk for autism, no guarantee vaccination will prevent getting the disease and vaccine safety. Looking for alternative options to vaccination has led some parents towards homeopathic immunisation or to not vaccinate at all relying on natural immunity.
Utilising the professions credibility within the community nurses should look for opportunities within their clinical environment to check in with parents regards the child’s immunisation record addressing any concerns or queries. Parents reluctance or refusal to vaccinate is generally based on genuine concerns for their child’s safety and well-being.
Information provided needs to be evidence based and delivered with empathy, without judgement and at an appropriate educational level that parents understand the consequences for their child and the community should they decide not to vaccinate.
“All vaccines registered in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are evaluated to ensure they are effective, comply with strict manufacturing and production standards, and have a strong safety record. This includes stringent testing for each vaccine component, including preservatives, additives and vaccine adjuvants. It can take up to 10 years for a vaccine to be approved for use”
“Both the British Homeopathic Association and the Australian Register of Homoeopaths recommend that people should receive conventional immunisation and that homoeopaths preparations should not be recommended as a substitute for conventional vaccination programs”
“Multiple studies have been completed which investigated the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination in relation to autism. Researchers have also studied thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, to see if it had any relation to autism. The results of studies are very clear; the data show no relationship between vaccines and autism”
“Vaccines are designed to generate an immune response that will protect the vaccinated individual during future exposures to the disease. Individual immune systems, however are different enough resulting in the individual not being effectively protected. This occur in less than 1% of all cases of most vaccines.”
The Australian Commonwealth government recently announced a “No Jab, No Pay” policy. The intent of the policy is to assist in increasing child vaccination rates within Australia. Those who will be impacted by the new policy are those accessing funding and tax benefits relating to childcare rebates and Family Tax A benefits.
Whether this will be successful or detrimental to vaccination rates is unknown at this stage. Currently it is the parents decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. Continued research and sharing of credible information addressing parents concerns remains at the forefront of any vaccination campaign. Nurses clearly play a significant role in communicating and disseminating the information with parents and the community generally.