We are standing at the threshold of our most impactful time as school nurses by encouraging vaccine participation for children ages 5-11. Yes, we are beleaguered and stretched beyond our capacity, but this is our most important role yet! We are the trusted credible messengers in school communities. Parents look to us for health information and education and we have never been at a more consequential juncture than we are right now. Let’s leverage our status as the most trusted and respected profession to encourage our parents to vaccinate their children.
The date is growing closer for our youngest students to become eligible for vaccination. This coming week may see the final decisions for emergency use authorization of Pfizer for ages 5-11. The Biden Administration is ready to roll out a plan with enough doses for the 28 million children who will soon be eligible. School nurses can help democratize access to COVID vaccinations for our most under-served and under-resourced communities. As a result of the pandemic, we are no longer the hidden healthcare system of years gone by. We have been and still are on the frontlines of COVID in our schools and communities.
School nurses have faced the most challenging and demanding time in our modern history. Books will be written about the COVID era and how we have met the moment by advocating for health and safety protocols against all odds and tremendous community pushback. We have straddled the worlds of education and healthcare during a global pandemic with determination and definitive action, even when those around us question our decision-making. School nursing practice is firmly grounded in science, evidence, and public health principles. Our resolve has been tested to extreme levels, but we are still standing, albeit a bit battered and bruised.
Vaccine messaging continues to be important and who better than school nurses to help redirect the disinformation and misinformation that is swirling around us. Our children are protected from 14 childhood illnesses because of vaccines. We have to remind people how vaccines have changed the world and kept us from harm. School nurses translate the confusing messaging about vaccines one family at a time.
NASN provides excellent resources in their COVID-19 Reference. Included in the wide range of topics is a detailed outline for implementing school-located vaccine clinics (SLVCs) for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration in Schools.
We have the knowledge, drive, and tools to take on our most important role yet, promoting vaccine confidence in our youngest students. We also have the agency to ask for support to make this happen. School nurses are the public health professionals in our school communities, the Chief Wellness Officers. Vaccination is the final protective layer of mitigation strategies that we have not had access to for our youngest students. It has finally arrived and we need to be ready to lead the way out of this pandemic one jab at a time.