Nurses key role in vaccination awareness raisingPosted on April 20, 2020
Despite the demonstrated benefits of many kinds of vaccination it remains a controversial issue largely due to misinformation, restricted access, health illiteracy and cost. Alarmingly, the findings of the EU statistical Report ‘Europeans’ attitudes towards vaccination’ and the EU Report ‘State of vaccine confidence in the EU 2018’, show that Europe is the region with the lowest confidence in vaccination in the world and that a very significant number of Europeans do not have the correct information on vaccination.
The major challenge for national immunization systems across Europe is to ensure Europeans have the correct information on vaccination and to increase confidence in and among healthcare professionals as infectious diseases make a resurgence across the Continent. The consequences of low uptakes of certain kinds of vaccination can be damaging to the health and economic welfare of vulnerable citizens across Europe, and by extension to their families and wider communities.
This is particularly relevant this year, the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, and within the European Immunization Week focusing on the part played by nurses and midwives in contributing in many ways to immunization, ranging from educating parents, supporting mothers and their infants as well as administering vaccines. As the largest professional group of the healthcare professions, nurses are the frontline staff largely responsible for delivering safe and effective vaccination programmes to communities across Europe, yet rarely getting formal recognition for this life-saving endeavour. In addition to administering vaccination, nurses have this additional role to educating the public, identifying vulnerable groups, raising awareness and promoting uptake among those who stand to benefit. As one of the most cost-effective health interventions, vaccination is a cornerstone of universal health coverage and vital to achieving optimal health for all, everywhere.
“By encouraging patients and their caregivers to vaccinate and by providing them with relevant scientific evidence, nurses increase the possibility that patients and their beloved ones remain in good health. Nurses contribute to an important public good such as ‘herd immunity’. Nurses know the importance of vaccination, and are aware of the consequences that the lack of vaccination can have for both themselves and the healthcare ecosystem”, European Federation of Nurses Associations
Recently, EU institutional actors have called for enhanced cooperation to increase vaccine uptake. The convening of the Coalition for Vaccination “to bring together European associations of healthcare workers as well as relevant students, associations in the field, to commit to delivering accurate information to the public, combating myths and exchanging best practice” and the further elaboration of this initiative to strengthen cooperation against vaccine preventable diseases, are deliverables required by the Council Recommendations adopted by EU Health Ministers on 7 December 2018, being implemented by the European Commission.