Recently, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Committee of Health Workforce reached out to the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) regarding a recent insurgence of measles in Canada and its relationship to vaccine hesitancy. This message contains a summary of that information and a call to action for Alberta’s Licensed Practical Nurses:
Vaccine hesitance is… a delay in acceptance of vaccines or a refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccine services. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine hesitancy is now one of the top 10 threats to global health, despite robust evidence showing the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. The WHO acknowledges that health care professionals are amongst the most trusted resources of information when parents make decisions regarding vaccination.
In response to recent national measles outbreaks, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, has urged healthcare workers to take the necessary time answering patient questions about immunizations and vaccines, and directing queries to credible sources.
As the regulatory authority for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) has a responsibility to the public to ensure safe, competent and ethical nursing practice.
LPNs role in immunization education
LPNs play a critical role in promoting safety, including education regarding vaccinations and immunizations. As professionals with a code of ethics and standards of practice, all nurses should have a comprehensive understanding of vaccination-related health supported by validated, science-based evidence.
There are many social influences regarding vaccinations that are not scientifically-based, negatively impacting the global perception of vaccinations. Social media has provided an easy route to share opinions and information. As a result, decisions not to vaccinate are being made based on non-scientific opinion which has negatively impacted the perception of vaccination safety. This has now reached a level of global crisis.
LPNs have a professional responsibility regarding informed decision-making. It is important that LPNs do not influence the decision-making process of clients or patients by sharing personal opinions regarding vaccinations. All information shared must be based on current, relevant and evidence-based science from a reputable and validated resource. Any misunderstandings or misinformation must also be corrected. LPNs must inform those served accurately, safely and completely. Licensed Practical Nurses can directly impact one of the top threats of global health due to a refusal to vaccinate.
Evidence-Based Immunization Sources
To ensure that all LPNs have access to the most recent and valid vaccination information, here are key Canadian-based sources:
- Government of Canada – Vaccines and Immunization
- Immunize Canada
- Canadian Paediatric Society
- Provincial and Territorial Ministries of Health
- Canadian Vaccination Evidence Resource and Exchange Centre (CANVax)