“Today in the United States, people rarely die from vaccine-preventable diseases. A way of achieving this was to have compulsory immunization requirements for school attendance” (Hedden et al., 2014).
Due to an outbreak of the Zika virus, women in El Salvador have been advised to refrain from getting pregnant until 2018. According to the Washington Post, women in Latin American countries are being encouraged to not get pregnant in an effort to prevent the birth defects that are seemingly linked to the virus. Spread by mosquitos, the virus causes children to be born with a smaller head than average, a result of the brain not fully forming. This can be accompanied by a myriad of other birth defects.
Maybe it’s that health campaigns have gotten more persuasive or maybe that schools have been getting stricter about requiring shots prior to entry into school that has led to such a surge of vaccination rates. Whatever it is, something has ignited many states across the US to keep up with immunization compliance. Just this past Fall, California’s vaccination rates went up in 49 of 58 counties, according to the California Department of Public Health’s website (cdph.ca.gov).
Immunizations specifically selected as one of the nation’s leading health indicators (CDC, 2011)
Since 2015 vaccinations have become an increasingly heated topic of conversation. Betweenthe outbreak of the measles in January 2015 and lawmakers introducing a bill to eliminate personal belief exemption in California weeks later in February immunization rights have become a hot button issue both in personal and political spheres. A personal belief exemption law allows for a person to exempt their children from childhood vaccinations. Each state structures their personal belief exemption policies differently as it pertains to their constituents.
Vaccines and immunization requirements are set at the state level. Therefore, it is important for healthcare providers, school administrators and parents to be consistent with monitoring the numerous changes and exemptions that each state has. Starting this year the State Immunization Changes link shows the most recent changes made by state.
Immunization Information Systems aim to assist school nurses in maintaining vaccination standards
The CDC intends for Immunization Information Systems (IIS) to facilitate the monitoring of their “functional standards” and to provide easier access to immunization records by parents and schools (CDC, 2012). The goal of transferring information between Electronic Health Records, such as Magnus Health software, is to one day allow parents to be able to request for their child’s information to be sent directly to the school from the states’ IIS. Starting in the 2016-2017 school year in California all kindergarteners and seventh graders will need to be up to date on their immunizations to be allowed into school. Officials hope that California’s actions will serve as a segway for other states to follow suit and work to get their constituents compliant.
The CDC now has an immunization schedule for infants and children: Interactive links http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/child.html
As well as an adolescent and adult vaccine quiz:
Due to the recent focus on immunization compliance and the drive for it to be achieved in schools, the role of the school nurse has become key to managing this aspect of the country’s interest in preventing the spread of disease.
Therefore, to maximize the percentage of immunization compliance the nurse must be vigilant, informed and persuasive when educating parents and even the school administration if they do not understand the risk and consequences associated with noncompliance.
By: Sherlee Johnson, Candice Ruedinger and Christina Trimis
Cartercenter.org (2015) History of the international task force for disease eradication (I&II). Retrieved from: http://www.cartercenter.org/health/itfde/history.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Healthy People 2020. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/healthy_people/hp2020.htm
Healthypeople.gov (2011). Healthy people. Retrieved from: http://www.healthypeople.gov/2010/LHI/lhiwhat.htm
Hedden, E. M., Jessop, A. B., & Field, R. I. (2014). An education in contrast: State-by-state assessment of school immunization records requirements. American Journal of Public Health, 104(10), 1993.