What Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Should Know About the Importance of Immunizing Children
Learn about the history of vaccinations and why they are so important for children.
Vaccinations cause our bodies to build up antibodies that keep us from contracting what could be fatal diseases. From smallpox to polio to measles and beyond, millions of lives worldwide are saved each year due to the advancements that have been made by the medical community in the form of immunizations. One recent and very relevant example is the COVID-19 vaccination, which protects individuals and offers very promising public health benefits as well. While some vaccinations are not received until adulthood and are dependent upon a person’s risk level—such as the shingles vaccination—routine childhood immunizations are incredibly important.
As a nurse practitioner, you know that it is better to prevent an illness than to treat one. And, by choosing to focus your career on pediatric nursing, you will most likely be speaking about the importance of vaccines on a regular basis to families and young patients. Communicating how diseases are spread, how the body fights diseases, and the importance of vaccines will be key.
Vaccinations Safely Build Immunity1
To prevent a disease, the body must build immunity, and in order for the body to do this, exposure to the disease must occur. When this happens, the immune system produces antibodies that recognize and repel the presence of foreign substances or toxins, also known as antigens. The immune system can then prevent future infections because it remembers antigens after their first occurrence. However, upon initial exposure to a specific antigen, such as pertussis, a child’s immune system may not produce antibodies quickly enough to prevent the disease. As a result, the child gets sick.
Childhood immunizations combat this potentially deadly course of action by safely exposing a child’s immune system to a disease. Each vaccine contains a portion of the antigens that cause a disease—enough to build immunity, but not enough for the disease to actually develop. Vaccinations thereby allow children to build vital immunities in a controlled environment with mitigated health risks.
Immunizations Protect Public Health1
Though childhood vaccinations protect children themselves, the benefits extend far beyond the individual to protect public health at large. That’s because not everyone receives specific vaccinations, yet those who do help to create herd immunity, thereby protecting others around them. For instance, some children with weak immune systems can’t be vaccinated. Newborn babies cannot receive the first of three doses for the polio vaccine until they are six weeks old.2 Some individuals may have medical conditions that impede their scheduled vaccination efforts. And a small percentage of individuals sometimes do not respond to a particular vaccine, leaving them perpetually exposed. However, the majority of children and adults choose to safely vaccinate. When children receive their immunizations on time, it helps to safeguard vulnerable populations and protect the health of our communities at large.
Childhood Vaccinations Are Cost-Saving1
Vaccine-preventable diseases are costly at the local, state, and national level. According to the nonprofit organization Vaccinate Your Family, nearly $27 billion is spent annually in the U.S. to treat adults for diseases that could have been prevented had they received vaccinations.3 Additionally, the CDC estimates that the U.S. has saved nearly $1.9 trillion in total society costs—including $406 billion in direct medical costs—by the vaccination of children born between 2004 and 2018.4 When broken down, $10.90 is saved for every $1 dollar spent on childhood vaccinations in the U.S., which is a 990% return on investment.
Pursue a Meaningful Career in Pediatrics With an MSN Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care
If you have a desire to impact the health of younger populations and become a nurse for children, Walden’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a specialization in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care can help you drive your goals forward. A CCNE-accredited program, the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care specialization can prepare you with the skills and experience you need to further your pediatric career and become a highly qualified nurse dedicated to improving patient care and outcomes.
At Walden, an accredited university, you can earn your pediatrics nursing degree online while you continue to work full time. Online learning allows you to complete your coursework at whatever time of day is most convenient, providing you with a flexible way to earn your master’s in nursing as you balance your professional and personal life.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a suite of nursing degree programs online, including an MSN Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care program. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
The baccalaureate degree program in nursing (BSN), master’s degree program in nursing (MSN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Walden University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (www.ccneaccreditation.org).
Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE is an autonomous accrediting agency contributing to the improvement of the public's health. CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.