Immunization and Women’s Health
Rwina Balto, BSN, RN, Nursing Midwifery student
Primary Care of Women–NM 610
Immunization and Women’s Health
Immunization campaigns usually focuses on children and adolescents. Yet, the prevalence of communicable diseases makes it necessary for vaccination to be administered to all people, regardless of age. Immunizing adults not only helps them, but also prevents the spread of infectious diseases, particularly to individuals – for instance, infants – who are not eligible for vaccination (Likis, 2012). Vaccination of adults also lowers the severity of pandemics when they occur (Pellegrini & McCabe, 2015). Although everyone can benefit from immunizations, this paper focuses on specifically on the impact of vaccinations on women’s health, and how advanced nursing practices can promote immunization and assist women in living healthy lives.
Review of Women’s Health
Women’s health is a global concern, especially among women of child-bearing potential, who may transfer infectious diseases to their babies. For this reason, immunization of these women, for the mitigation of infant morbidity and mortality, is a priority in many countries (Greenwood, 2014). According to Likis (2012), women have a higher chance of infecting infants with communicable diseases if they are not vaccinated before delivery. Healthcare providers attending to women should ensure that they provide health education to their patients and recommended vaccines to benefit the women, their families, and the whole community (Likis, 2012).
Collaboration between healthcare providers is necessary to ensure all women have access immunization and quality health care (Pellegrini & McCabe, 2015). Healthcare providers should strive to enhance public education about vaccinations and women’s health, and should make efforts to expand women’s access to vaccines. Such efforts will reduce the spread of infectious diseases from women to their children and others and promote development of a healthier society with fewer cases of disease outbreaks.
Immunization is an essential way of protecting women against communicable diseases and can be a step towards protecting not only the women, but their children and other members of society as well.
Research shows that women are more vulnerable to infections that may endanger their lives and lead to infections to others. According to Dunne et al. (2015), vaccinations against malaria, meningococcus, tuberculosis, and pneumococcus or even rabies given to women can help lower the rates of diseases. All these immunizations are essential as they target or lower the actual burden of the diseases to mother and the society. For example, the acceptance of pertussis vaccination among women has significantly reduced the number of women and children affected by the disease. However, concerns about how women seek vaccination remain a challenge due to lack of awareness or incentives of women participation.
Eberhardt et al. (2016) examines the relationship between women’s health and infants through antibody transfer. The researchers recognized that intervals between vaccinations in women especially those who are expecting, affect infant seropositivity rates. This means that the timing for immunizations is critical, and all women need to be immunized according to a schedule recommended by a healthcare provider. From the umbilical cord blood collected immediately after birth, it was found that seropositivity was more frequent (96%) for women who were immunized against pertussis in their second trimester compared to 86% for those vaccinated in their third trimester (Eberhardt et al., 2016). The research showed that there is a significant body response to pertussis and CRM-conjugate vaccines among newborns whose mothers receive Repavax during pregnancy (Ladhani et al., 2015), demonstrating the importance of vaccination.
A study by Khan, Vandelaer, Yakubu, Raza, and Zulu (2015) focuses on the elimination of neonatal tetanus among women. Vaccination of women in reproductive age is essential. The study reports the number of deaths from neonatal tetanus declined from 490,000 in 1994 to 49,000 in 2013 (Khan et al., 2015). The provision of quality services, timely vaccination, and skilled attendants to women delivering are associated with the reduced number of tetanus cases. However, the researchers argue that it is still important to identify those who do not have access to vaccines by surveillance of all reported cases (Khan et al., 2015). An active approach to identifying those in need of vaccine must be revived in order to completely eliminate neonatal tetanus.
The article, “Knowledge and Acceptability about Adult Pertussis Immunization in Korean Women of Childbearing Age,” by Ko et al. (2015), provides research findings that the immunization program implemented in the UK was highly effective and helped to prevent diseases and death from diphtheria and tetanus. Almost all women who sought immunization showed a short-term protective threshold against diphtheria and tetanus (Ko et al., 2015). The study reports that immunizing women increases their antibodies, thereby allowing them to live healthy lives without the interference of diseases.
Unfortunately, despite the research emphasizing the importance of vaccines, the article, “Maternal immunization at the crossroads,” by Pellegrini and McCabe (2015) shows how immunization in women is at crossroads, due to new research protocols and requirements. Development of vaccines is often slowed by long-standing legal barriers. For example, litigation prevents many researchers and manufacturers from inventing new vaccines that can be used to improve women’s health. Additionally, patients and healthcare providers may be reluctant to use new vaccines due to uncertainties about their safety and efficacy. However, the authors suggest three solutions to this issue. First, the process should be intentional and open to the public at all stages. Second, adequate information about the development should be provided to participants and the public. Third, collaboration between manufacturers, researchers, and policymakers must be enhanced (Pellegrini & McCabe, 2015).
Clinical Benefits of Immunization
Healthcare providers, researchers, and health organizations are tremendously advocating for immunization. Although there are parts in the world where health awareness on vaccination is low, immunization’s contribution to global health should not be underestimated. With immunization, diseases that cannot be treated and have serious health effects can be eradicated. For example, immunizing children against polio can solve the problems of growth and development associated with the disease. Additionally, serious infectious diseases like smallpox have been largely eradicated, and health professionals are working to eradicate guinea worm as well (Greenwood, 2014). However, diseases such as measles, polio, and tuberculosis still need to be controlled effectively, which indicates the ongoing need to promote vaccination among women.
Ensuring that women are properly immunized results in increased women’s health, and make infants less vulnerable to communicable diseases. Although enhancing uptake of current vaccines like BCG, DPT and polio is a global challenge, routine vaccination must be stressed, as it effectively to save lives (Greenwood, 2014) and reduces chances of epidemics in the community. Morbidity and mortality can be high in case of disease outbreaks in communities with low vaccination rates. For this reason, it is essential for vaccination to be administered not only to women but also to men to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
Women’s Project Description
This educational project was about encouraging women to receive vaccines and follow an immunization schedule. The aim was to improve women’s health and wellbeing. The project was held in Regents Park apartments in Fairfax Virginia, and targeted women of all ages and ethnicities, including American, Saudi, Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, and Chinese. Women were given pamphlets that contained information about the importance and benefits of vaccination, the risks of not getting the vaccines, and the CDC’s 2017 recommended vaccination schedule. The women were happy to receive the pamphlet, and many asked questions about vaccination and pregnancy. Several women also asked questions about flu vaccines and explained that they previously refused the vaccines for fear of the vaccine making them sick. All questions were addressed properly. While some women remained skeptical about vaccines, overall, the project was a success. The women were thankful that this educational session was held in their neighborhood, and many were inspired to get their vaccines.
Women’s health is a growing concern in many countries that experience high infant morbidity and mortality rates. Immunization is one of the ways to reduce the rates of infections. Vaccinating expectant mothers during gestation according to the set schedule can ensure that infants have better health due to antibodies that are acquired from the mother’s blood. Despite the non-adherence to immunization and lack of awareness in some communities, immunization is considered the most effective way to reduce the spread of infectious diseases in the population. Some vaccinations are supposed to be administered to the whole community regardless of gender and age. However, maternal immunization needs to be prioritized, as women at this stage are vulnerable to many diseases that can endanger not only their lives, but also the lives of their unborn children.
Dunne, E. F., Naleway, A., Smith, N., Crane, B., Weinmann, S., Braxton, J., & Markowitz, L. E. (2015). Reduction in human papillomavirus vaccine type prevalence among young women screened for cervical cancer in an integrated US healthcare delivery system in 2007 and 2012–2013. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 212(12), 1970-1975.
Eberhardt, C., Blanchard-Rohner, G., Lemaître, B., Boukrid, M., Combescure, C., Othenin-Girard, V. Sieqrist, C. A. (2016). Maternal immunization earlier in pregnancy maximizes antibody transfer and expected infant seropositivity against pertussis. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 62(7), 829-836. doi:10.1093/cid/ciw027
Greenwood, B. (2014). The contribution of vaccination to global health: Past, present, and future. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 369(1645), 20130433. doi:10.1098/rstb.2013.0433
Khan, R. Vandelaer, J., Yakubu, A., Raza, A. A., &Zulu, F. (2015). Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination: From protecting women and newborns to protecting all. International Journal of Women’s Health, 7, 171-180. doi:10.2147/ijwh.s50539
Ko, H. S., Jo, Y. S., Kim, Y. H., Park, Y. G., Wie, J. H., Cheon, J., & Shin, J. C. (2015). Knowledge and acceptability about adult pertussis immunization in Korean women of childbearing age. Yonsei Medical Journal, 56(4), 1071-1078.
Likis, F. E. (2012). Immunizations for women: A midwifery responsibility. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 57(2), 111. doi:10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00168.x
Pellegrini, C., & McCabe, E. R. (2015). Maternal immunization at the crossroads. Vaccine, 33(47), 6501-6502. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.06.118