Vaccine Education for Pediatric Offices

Pediarix, Hib, Prevnar, and Rota vaccines have been prepared for an infant at her well child visit.
Pediarix, Hib, Prevnar, and RotaTeq vaccines have been prepared for an infant at her well child visit. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

Why get educated about vaccines if you work in a pediatric office?

In addition to learning how to give vaccines properly, it can help you answer any questions parents might have and help them understand that vaccines are safe, vaccines work, and vaccines are necessary to protect our kids.

Who needs to get educated about vaccines?

Everyone of course. While it’s great if all of the medical assistants and nurses have done their research about vaccines, you will have missed opportunities to get kids vaccinated and protected if the folks making appointments aren’t.

Learning the Immunization Schedule

How do you know when to give a particular vaccine to an infant, child, or older teen when they come to the office, besides the fact that someone else ordered it or the school says they need it?

You can learn the rules of the immunization schedule.

There is more to it than just looking a child’s age and seeing which vaccines they are due for though.

Has the child missed any vaccines, which means you might need to use the catch-up immunization rules?

Do they have any contraindications or reasons to not get a vaccine today?

“There is no ‘alternative’ immunization schedule. Delaying vaccines only leaves a chil​d at risk of disease for a longer period of time; it does not make vaccinating safer.

Vaccines work, plain and simple. Vaccines are one of the safest, most effective and most important medical innovations of our time. Pediatricians partner with parents to provide what is best for their child, and what is best is for children to be fully vaccinated.”

Karen Remley, MD, Executive Director, American Academy of Pediatrics​

Does the child have any high risk conditions, which mean they might need an early or extra vaccine?

In addition to reviewing the latest immunization schedules, studying a summary of recommendations for child and teen immunizations can help you quickly learn when kids need vaccines.

Giving Vaccines Safely

Once you know when it’s time to give the right vaccine to the right child at the right time, you want to make sure that you are giving it to them properly.

You also want to make sure staff knows how to reduce pain associated with giving shots, keeps thorough records, and disposes of needles and syringes properly.

Storing Vaccines Safely

Vaccines must be stored properly.

For example, while some vaccines must be refrigerated, others must be frozen.

What happens if vaccines aren’t stored at the proper temperature?

If a vaccine gets too warm or too cold, it can lose some of its potency and it probably won’t work well. That can mean vaccinated kids don’t get the immunity you expect and are left unprotected to one or more vaccine-preventable diseases. Hopefully, the office discovers the problem before any kids have gotten the vaccine though and they are just left throwing out some unusable vaccines.

The California VFC Program offers
The California VFC Program offers “Do Not UnPlug” signs so that vaccines don’t get ruined.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help office staff get trained about:

  • appropriate vaccine refrigerators and freezers
  • monitoring vaccine temperature with a digital data logger and certified calibrated buffered thermometer probe
  • vaccine temperature best practices
  • keeping a vaccine inventory log
  • handling vaccine deliveries
  • having a plan for refrigerator failure
  • having a plan for power failure and disasters
  • avoiding preventable errors

Does your office have a plan to keep their vaccines at a safe temperature? What about if the power goes out? Will they still be safe?

Other Vaccine Issues

Anyone who administers vaccines to kids should also know:

  • that they need to provide a copy of the latest Vaccine Information Statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the child’s parent or guardian before giving each vaccine
  • the answers to common questions that parents ask about vaccines
  • to explain common and more rare side effects that parents might be possible after vaccines, so that they aren’t surprised
  • how to report possible adverse reactions to VAERS
  • how to report a vaccine error to VERP
  • that children, especially teens, should be observed for 15 minutes after they are vaccinated to make sure they don’t develop syncope (fainting)
  • strategies to improve your office’s immunization rates
  • how to counter the bad advice Dr. Sears and the use of an alternative or non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule
  • the most common vaccine errors, so you can better avoid them

It is also important for all staff to know their office’s vaccine policy. Does your office have one?

What To Know About Vaccine Education for Pediatric Offices

Vaccines are safe, necessary, and still needed to protect all of our kids from vaccine-preventable diseases. Help make sure everyone in your office is educated about the latest immunization schedule and understands how to give and store vaccines safely.

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