Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nurse Angela Quinn On Why She Is A Nurse Who Vaccinates

In a guest blog post for Parents for Vaccines, Nurse Angela Quinn tells the story of why she switched careers to become a nurse, and how in that process she found Nurses Who Vaccinate. She goes on to write about the need for pro-science nurses to speak up and advocate for vaccines for their parents and themselves.

Nurses Who Vaccinate Member
Angela Quinn, RN 
"The day I joined Nurses Who Vaccinate was the day I knew without a doubt that I was truly meant to be a nurse and that every prior experience in my life had brought me right here to this vital cause. I have never felt more empowered to make a difference in the lives of people as I do right now, and promoting public health through vaccine advocacy is the perfect vehicle for me to drive my passion for nursing. As the number of cases of vaccine preventable diseases continues to increase, the need for vaccine advocacy only further strengthens. Nurses are the largest segment of the health care industry and together, we can truly make the crucial difference between public health outbreaks and public health wellness. "

Originally published on Parents for Vaccines on March 25, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Global Health Advocacy- A Parent or Nurse? You Need to Be Involved!

This upcoming Monday, I'll be traveling to Washington, D.C., as an invitee to the Shot@Life Champion Summit. I am once again honored and excited to be chosen, and will be meeting and collaborating with Champions from around the world- individuals who are dedicated to making sure every child, no matter where they are born, are given a shot at a healthy life.

But now our efforts (and yours) are more important than ever.

In a two part series over at Vaccine Ambassadors, Nurses Who Vaccinate and Moms Who Vax, guest blogged about the importance of encouraging the public to become vaccine advocates. Nurses Who Vaccinate's post focused on encouraging healthcare workers and Ashley Shelby from Moms Who Vax focused on getting more parents involved with vaccine advocacy.

Ashely wrote, "This generation of American parents are now facing the real possibility that their children could contract the diseases that other parents across the globe have been desperate to protect their own children from." 
In the recent years that statement has become more of a reality to the dismay of public health workers. One only has to check out the news to read about outbreaks of diseases we previously did not have to worry about, popping up around our developed countries. Now, more than ever, it is vital to the health of our communities to educate ourselves as healthcare workers and parents on the importance of vaccinating children, adults and ourselves.

However, we cannot stop at strengthening protection within our community. We need to look beyond our backyards, nursing units, and towns. We need to learn about the African parents struggling to provide vaccine access for their children. We need to find ways and methods to help parents in Pakistan learn about the importance of vaccinating to protect against polio. That child in New Delhi deserves the same opportunities as the child in New York.

How can we do that? 

With the help of these organizations: 

Whether it's talking to a fellow parent who is unsure whether to take their child back for well visits, keeping up to date with vaccination techniques, or wanting to help families in developing countries, these organizations can play an important part in all those activities. As stated in the Mom Who Vax post, we have a responsibility to all children, not just our own, not just our patients, but all children, to provide vaccine access and a shot at life.

Melody Butler, RN- founder of Nurses Who Vaccinate

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Become a Member of Nurses Who Vaccinate!

Nurses Who Vaccinate is a professional organization dedicated to education and action to prevent disease and enhance wellness. The mission of Nurses Who Vaccinate is to promote knowledge and competency in immunizations and work to position nurses and health care professionals as vaccine advocates for colleagues, patients, and the public.

Membership is free and open to all nurses, healthcare providers, students, parents and immunization advocates. Becoming a member provides unique opportunities to gain knowledge that will improve patient care, improve education techniques and influence vaccine advocacy at the international, national and state level.

Membership give you access to:
- the official Nurses Who Vaccinate newsletter

-the Nurses Who Vaccinate Online Community
- Action Alerts
- Special Events 
- Professional development programs (workshops, conferences, webinars, etc..) 
- and much more.

All information sent to Nurses Who Vaccinate will be kept confidential.

Become a Member of Nurses Who Vaccinate

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Nurses Vaccinate to Protect Families and Patients

Nurses Can Fall Victim to Internet Myths and Vaccine Misinformation

-How A Pregnant Nurse Almost Risked Her Job and Health Due to Anti-Vaccine Websites and a Flu Shot-

The best critical thinkers can fall victim to misinformation—even nurses like me. I was recently reminded of a time I had been misguided when I read a news report of a pregnant nurse who had refused a flu shot and was subsequently fired. She based her decision not to receive the flu vaccine on Internet myths and outdated information, and as a result she lost her job for not complying with a new healthcare workers mandate. I empathized with this mother-to-be and fellow nurse. I had once been in her place–an anxious mother and concerned nurse being told to vaccinate or leave. But my story has a different ending than hers.
I wasn’t always an adamant public advocate for public health safety topics and immunizations. I viewed vaccines in the same light as any other medication that nurses distribute and administer. I studied immunizations in nursing school, knew the history of infectious diseases, and read about them occasionally in the nursing news updates. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third son, during the H1N1 outbreaks, that I really started paying closer attention.
During the 2009 H1N1 outbreaks, I was very hesitant to get the “new” flu shot that was being talked about constantly in the media. My home state, New York, had plans to initiate a bill that would mandate all healthcare professionals to get the influenza vaccine or face being fired. Though I was a nurse, and had the related educational background, I was frightened and overwhelmed by the scare reports I saw on the evening news and anecdotal stories I was reading on the Internet.
At the same time, however, I was also concerned about protecting my unborn baby, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to escape having contact with the flu virus, especially with more than 60% of pediatric patients in my nursing unit at the time being hospitalized with flu or flu-like illness. I was really torn in my decision whether to vaccinate–or not vaccinate and lose my job as a pediatric nurse.
It was a conversation with my clinical nurse educator that opened my eyes to the dangers of Internet misinformation and pseudoscience. The discussion started with her expressing concern that I wasone of the high-risk candidates eligible to receive the H1N1 influenza vaccine shot. She advised that I should get it as soon as possible–being pregnant placed me in the top category for complications. I replied that I had read the opposite on the internet: the articles I has seen said the vaccine was dangerous for pregnant mothers. I informed her I was opposed to the New York State mandate, being forced to get the H1N1 vaccine, and would not be getting the vaccine.
My clinical educator, being fully aware of the risks involved with a pregnant mother refusing a flu shot, took the time to review the sources I was basing my decision on. I pulled up the different websites and articles, and one by one she was able to debunk the incorrect claims, demonstrate why certain websites lacked credibility to provide medical information, and explain why anecdotal stories aren’t evidence-based research. I was shell-shocked and angry that I had been duped and swindled. I was a Registered Nurse, with a college education and nursing certifications, yet I was being misled by conspiracy sites and parenting blogs.
She then showed me accurate medical studies on the safety and effectiveness of not just the H1N1 vaccine, but also the annual influenza vaccine. She was able to demonstrate that the influenza vaccines were indeed safeeffective, and vital to protecting me and my baby, as well as my patients.
By the time my hospital had a supply of the vaccine, I was one of the first in line to receive the shot–thanks to my colleagues and educators who took time to answer my questions and clarify misconceptions. Unfortunately not all pregnant mothers had early access to the H1N1 vaccine, and as a result of contracting the flu, many, including a dear friend of mine, lost their unborn children when they suffered from miscarriages after contracting influenza.
family pic
Left to right: Melody Butler, her 21 month
old daughter, 9 year old son, 5 year old son,
3 year old son and Brendan, her husband
My experience encouraged me to ensure my patients and their families knew the true risk influenza poses for pregnant mothers, infants, and the immunocompromised, as well as the importance of pregnant mothers getting flu shots during pregnancy in order to protect the baby and themselves.
I saw the need for nurses to sharpen their critical thinking skills and learn how to properly analyze news updates and educational information about immunizations— not just for the workplace but also for making personal medical decisions. This experience of mine was one of several reasons I created the organization Nurses Who Vaccinate. Nurses need support and encouragement to advocate and speak up for immunizations, not just among patients but among our co-workers and fellow nurses. Nurses Who Vaccinate provides a community where nurses and healthcare workers can collaborate to promote wellness and preventive interventions to keep communities healthy and vaccine-preventable disease-free. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to have a one-on-one discussion with an infectious disease specialist and my clinical nurse educator. Not all nurses have the access to specialists like I did. Thus they need to have the resources available to obtain updates and vaccine information, and that is the mission at Nurses Who Vaccinate.
Back to the pregnant nurse from the news article. It’s important to remember that this mother and her child still remain within the high-risk population for influenza complications. She places herself at higher risk still during this year’s influenza season, in which H1N1 cases are prevalent and widespread. As the newspapers report on unvaccinated young mothers dying and losing their children, I do hope that the nurse reconsiders. I hope she has access to a medically trained professional who can address her concerns, answer her influenza vaccines questions, and educate her on the importance of vaccinating herself while pregnant. If not, I hope that in her internet travels she stumbles across the Nurses Who Vaccinate blog post I wrote last year on the many studies that demonstrate that the flu shot is safe for pregnant mothers or this one written by Tara Haelle. I really do hope that accurate information about how safe and important the flu shot is for her and her baby reaches her before it’s too late.

Melody Butler, RN- founder of Nurses Who Vaccinate

This post originally appeared as a guest blog post for Voices For Vaccines on February 23, 2014.