ANA Calls for RNs to Be Immunized Against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

But ANA said exemptions for medical or religious reasons should be allowed.

The American Nurses Association recently called for all individuals, including registered nurses, "to be immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases, with the only exemptions being for medical or religious reasons."

This is a new position for the union; ANA said it aligns with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a CDC panel of medical and public health experts who advise vaccine use. ANA's re-examination of its position was prompted partly by outbreaks of 2015 measles cases that affected unvaccinated adults and children.

"ANA's new position aligns registered nurses with the best current evidence on immunization safety and preventing diseases such as measles," said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. "A critical component of a nurse's job is to educate patients and their family members about the effectiveness of immunization as a safe method of disease prevention to protect not only individuals, but also the public health."

During the first seven months of 2015, CDC reported 183 people from more than 20 states were reported to have measles, with five outbreaks resulting in most of those cases. This occurred after, in 2000, the United States declared that measles was eliminated from the country, thanks to an effective measles vaccine and a strong vaccination program for children.

"Health care personnel who request exemption for religious beliefs or medical contraindications – a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold an immunization due to the harm it would cause – should provide documentation from 'the appropriate authority' supporting the request. Individuals who are granted exemption 'may be required to adopt measures or practices in the workplace to reduce the chance of disease transmission' to patients and others," ANA's new policy says.

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