Immunisations are an important part of the care we provide in general practice. Vaccines are one of the most effective strategies to prevent debilitating and even deadly diseases.
There are a few key considerations when it comes to vaccines, which differ from other medications.
Even though immunisations are Schedule 4 or prescription drugs, there are a few things to keep in mind before administration.
Nurses administering vaccines must:
- Have a good understanding of what vaccines are, how and when they are used and what they are used for
- Understand limitations around initiating vaccines. Since they are prescription drugs, vaccines must be ordered by a doctor, with the exception of nurses who have become credentialed nurse immunisers and who are practicing in states where they are allowed to initiate vaccines from the National Immunisation Program (this does not apply to travel vaccines which must always be ordered or initiated by a doctor).
- Ensure that a suitably trained provider is readily available during all immunisation encounters, if the nurse is not trained on the use of adrenaline and not authorised to initiate adrenaline.
- Understand contraindications to vaccination
- Be able to provide patients with information about what to watch out for and what to do in the event of an adverse effect.