I’m going to cut to the chase here. There are many good reasons to review the latest version of this reliable CDC resource, but this time around, it is imperative. There’s a lot of brand new but essential content. The series also provides a fresh look at much of the older content based on the latest research and innovations. These webinars make up the building blocks on which much of your other knowledge depends and are a foundational course for anyone working with vaccines including all travel health nurses. Hence, we strongly recommend you set aside time to view the webinars and get up to speed. As usual, the entire series is free of charge, with continuing education credit as a bonus.
For those of you not as familiar with the Pink Book, the official title is Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, and it is the most comprehensive guide to routine vaccines and the diseases they prevent written for health care professionals. The latest version came out in 2021 and is currently in its 14th edition. CDC released the new companion webinar series this July.
The first six episodes are core modules focusing on general vaccine fundamentals, including basic principles, best practices, strategies, storing and handling, and administration. The remaining modules, released weekly through November 1, 2022, focus on individual vaccines, including the new pneumococcal, dengue, and, yes, for the fall- COVID19 vaccines. It’s certainly prudent to review the new ones but reviewing the remaining presentations will ensure you have the preparation to address the myriad of patient questions and concerns nurses frequently encounter in our current culture of vaccine misinformation.
For example, just in the first module alone, you’ll get a review of the immune system and how it responds to both live and non-live vaccines. Examples of homologous pooled human antibodies, heterologous hyperimmune serum antitoxin, homologous human hyperimmune globulins, and monoclonal antibodies are explained. There’s a good breakdown of critical factors that can impact the immune response, which every nurse must grasp to provide high-quality vaccine care. Finally, the module will help you get your head around the various categories of vaccines, including whole cell, subunit, toxoid, recombinant, and mRNA vaccines, and delineate examples of each.
The series is also full of useful links to tools you can utilize to decrease the risk of an error and promote trust with patients, including the latest schedules, screening for contraindications and precautions, and using a presumptive approach to enhance vaccine uptake when talking to parents. There’s also a simplified schedule for parents. I especially like the summary chart, which lists the disease, how it is transmitted, symptoms, and potential complications. One could modify this for adults who aren’t entirely up to date with recommendations.
August is National Vaccine Awareness Month, which celebrates the enormous medical success of vaccines and illustrates their benefits across every age group. The positive impact of vaccines has been stunning, as below. Since nurses are often tasked with this significant responsibility, we owe it to our patients and the communities they impact to fully educate ourselves to continue saving millions of lives.
Julie Richards, ATHNA Past President