Global Immunization and Impact of Nurses

Introduction

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic underscores the impact of healthcare professionals on global health issues. In the United States and other countries over the globe, the delivery of healthcare services heavily relies on nurses. In particular, nurses play a vital role in the vaccination process (Cassidy et al., 2021). This paper will discuss global immunization, the impact of global immunization, and how nurses can impact global immunization.

Global Health Problem: Global Immunization

The topic of global immunization is important for nursing because vaccination saves lives. The role of nurses is to provide the best quality of care to patients. Vaccination helps nurses to do their job because it reduces the number of people in need of care. For instance, vaccination against COVID-19 reduces the risk of hospitalization. Nurses have participated in the vaccination process for a long time. They played a key role during the influenza outbreak, the polio epidemic of the 1990s, and the H1N1 virus in 2009 (Cassidy et al., 2021). Presently, nurses are among the healthcare professionals in the frontline against the coronavirus pandemic. Hence, global vaccination is a topic relevant to nursing. I chose it because vaccination has been a recurring yet controversial topic in the past year, and I wanted to do further research on the matter.

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Global Impact of Immunization

Vaccination is a polarizing issue, with people taking a stance on both sides of the debate. One of the biggest problems that healthcare providers face when attempting to administer immunizations is vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy refers to the delay in acceptance or complete refusal to get vaccinated despite the availability of vaccines (Cassidy et al., 2021). The problem of vaccine hesitancy can be analyzed from the perspective of the US and that of another country, such as China.

A significant portion of the United States population has been hesitant about the coronavirus vaccine. According to a survey conducted in 2021, 15% of the people reported that they were not likely to be vaccinated, while 7% said they would definitely not be vaccinated (Khubchandani et al., 2021). The refusal of people to get vaccinated has been a major challenge for the healthcare sector that is presently overwhelmed by COVID-19 admissions. Currently, approximately 63% of the adult population has been vaccinated (BBC Team, 2022). To increase the vaccination rate, the federal government instituted vaccine mandates. While some people got vaccinated to avoid repercussions, others remained adamant. Given that the United States presently has the highest COVID-19 cases and deaths, the general attitude towards vaccination is not as serious as needed.

Vaccine uptake in the US can be compared with China. The attitude towards vaccination has been more positive in China than in the US. At 85%, China currently has one of the highest vaccinations rates in the world (BBC Team, 2022). The high vaccination rate in China can be attributed to certain government efforts. The country’s administration strives to adequately educate citizens on the COVID-19 vaccine. Rather than employing mandates, the government of China believes that vaccination should be “informed, agreed, and voluntary” (Meng et al., 2021). This has increased citizens’ trust in the government handling of the pandemic, which has boosted the rate of vaccination.

How Nurses Can Impact Global Immunization

Nurses can have an impact on global immunization by administering vaccines. These healthcare professionals can help increase the number of people who get vaccinated by actively vaccinating people. In the US, only certain types of nurses can prescribe vaccines. For instance, some states permit registered nurses and nurse practitioners to administer vaccines only under the supervision of a doctor (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d.). This restriction hinders the role that nurses play in global vaccination. However, in some countries, nurses have the same capacity as physicians to give vaccines. Nurses would have a bigger impact on global vaccination if most of them were trained and allowed to vaccinate people.

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Another way in which nurses can impact global immunization is by creating awareness. Nurses are among the most trusted professionals, which makes them suitable for spreading awareness on the benefits of vaccination. For instance, they can undertake community awareness projects to educate people and vaccinate those willing to get vaccinated. These projects can be undertaken in workplaces, schools, churches, and community centers. In this digital era, nurses can also create awareness on social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. People could ask questions, raise their concerns, and receive adequate information about vaccination in these forums (Arnold & Boggs, 2021). Such outreach programs conducted by nurses improve people’s attitudes towards immunization and help to increase the vaccination rate.

While nurses have an important part to play in increasing vaccine uptake, it is also essential to analyze resource availability over the globe since nurses cannot properly do their jobs without sufficient resources. The US has an adequate amount of vaccination resources, including information and vaccines. There are many websites, infomercials, and videos dedicated to providing information on immunization against various diseases, including the flu and the coronavirus. Additionally, the US is one of the countries with the most COVID-19 vaccines (BBC team, 2022). Many of the companies that manufacture vaccines are licensed in the US, thereby giving the country an adequate number of vaccine doses. However, the country has a shortage of healthcare workers who are needed to maintain a functional healthcare system. Therefore, despite the availability of vaccines and information on immunization, the nation contends with finding enough people to join the healthcare field.

Resource availability in the US can be compared to that in the global healthcare system. Similar to the US, many countries all over the world have adequate information on immunization. The internet facilitates the fast spread of this information to all people. While information is widely available, vaccines are not equitably distributed. Lower- and middle-income countries do not have the same access to vaccines as high-income countries due to restrictions on manufacturing. Manufacturers in wealthy countries refuse to share vaccine technology and technical know-how, thereby slowing down the containment of the coronavirus (World Health Organization, 2021). Finally, the shortage of healthcare workers is experienced in most parts of the world. The pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. Consequently, there is a global shortage of healthcare professionals, which puts a strain on the healthcare system, especially amid the pandemic.

Conclusion

In summary, nurses have an impact on global immunization, especially during the ongoing pandemic. By administering vaccination and spreading awareness on the importance of vaccination, they can help minimize COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. The vital role of nurses in global health issues has certain implications for nursing practice. One implication is that nurses should receive continuous and extensive training to prepare them for unprecedented occurrences, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Another implication is that patient education is critical to nursing. While China achieved a high vaccination rate by educating residents and making vaccination voluntary, the US vaccination mandate strategy has not been received well. Ultimately, people respond better when they are provided with information by people they trust, such as nurses, rather than required to undergo vaccination.

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References

Arnold, E. C., & Boggs, K. U. (2019). Interpersonal relationships: Professional communication skills for nurses. Elsevier Health Sciences.

BBC Team. (2022). Covid vaccines: How fast is progress around the world? BBC News. Web.

Cassidy, C., Langley, J., Steenbeek, A., Taylor, B., Kennie-Kaulbach, N., Grantmyre, H., Stratton, L., & Isenor, J. (2021). A Behavioral analysis of nurses’ and pharmacists’ role in addressing vaccine hesitancy: Scoping review. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 17(11), 1-18. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d). Training and Education. CDC. Web.

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Khubchandani, J., Sharma, S., Price, J. H., Wiblishauser, M. J., Sharma, M., & Webb, F. J. (2021). COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in the United States: A rapid national assessment. Journal of Community Health, 46(2), 270-277.

Meng, Z., Shan, S., & Zhang, R. (2021). China’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy and its impact on the global pandemic. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 14, 4649-4655. Web.

World Health Organization. (2021). Vaccine inequity undermining global economic recovery. WHO. Web.

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