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Patient Education

Risk Communication

Like many health concerns, people have questions about things they hear or read online about vaccines. As the most trusted profession, nurses can be critical in helping to improve confidence in vaccines and to help people feel good about their decision to be vaccinated or to have their children or loved ones vaccinated.

Nurses should understand the concept of risk communication, as it is a vital tool in helping to discuss immunizations with patients, colleagues, family and communities. Being able to communicate about risk is very important, especially now that many vaccine-preventable diseases like polio and diptheria are practically extinct in the U.S. Nurses need to help people understand the risk of the diseases is still very real, and the sagging confidence in vaccines and the subsequent drops in immunization coverage have caused the re-emergence of diseases, and in some cases, death.

Be sure to have the facts—learn about how immunizations work in the human body, how vaccine safety is monitored, and how to effectively communicate about the risk of disease versus the risk of a vaccine side effect. Think critically about what you hear or read about the risks of vaccinating. Remember, you don't always have approach the conversation in terms of risk—help people understand the benefits of vaccines, both to individuals and the community at large.

Use these resources to help educate and advise patients and their families to help them make the best possible decisions using all available information.

Print Materials

Looking for some fliers for your clinic or office? Need a poster for your break room? Going to a health fair and need some hand-outs on immunization? Look no further!

Here there are links to lots of great information and educational materials addressing nurses and other health care workers, adults and adolescents, parents, and more!

Please see the materials below in the blue box under Resources beginning with "Talking to Parents about Vaccines - CDC" and ending with "Resources for Communicating to Parents."

Vaccine Info Statements

Giving a vaccine? Then you need to give a VIS!

Vaccine information statements, or VIS, are fact sheets about an immunization, including a clinical description of the diseases it prevents, common side effects and treatment, how to report a vaccine adverse event, and more. It is federal law that anyone receiving a vaccine be given the corresponding VIS to ensure they are making an informed choice about being vaccinated.

Nurses, as primary patient educators and advocates, should ensure that everytime a vaccine is given, the patient or parent receives a VIS - even for booster doses and annual seasonal influenza vaccines. VISs are available in many languages, even Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Thai.

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