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Vaccines are safe and effective. Like any product - medications, food, personal care products even - there are risks of harm, such as an unknown allergy. Vaccines have an excellent safety record, and scientists and researchers devote their careers to ensuring safety through continued study of vaccines and recipients of vaccines.

But vaccine safety remains one of the biggest concerns for people, and fear of a side effect is often cited in research, surveys, and anecdotes as a reason for refusing a vaccine. Nurses should be familiar with the research and development processes for vaccines, the safety and efficacy data that comes out of those processes, the actual risk/benefit scenarios for vaccination, and should be prepared to answer questions about vaccine safety.

In order to secure confidence in vaccines, there is a continuous effort to study, understand, and resolve any safety problems in a transparent manner.

While this does not guarantee that vaccines will never cause harm or that problems with vaccines will never occur, but it does help to minimize these events so that they happen only in the rarest of cases.

Journal Articles

The following is a collection of practical, clinical, and programmatic articles related to vaccines and the field of nursing. If you find an immunization article with a nursing focus that you would like to add to the list, please e-mail the citation to


Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism
Price, C.S., Thompson, W.W., Goodson, B., Weintraub, E.S., Croen, L.A., Hinrichsen, V.L., et al. Pediatrics. 2010 Sep; 126: 656-664.

Predictors of HAV/HBV vaccination completion among methadone maintenance clients.
Nyamathi A, Sinha K, Greengold B, Cohen A, Marfisee M.
Res Nurs Health. 2010 Apr;33(2):120-32.

A summer school on vaccinology: Responding to identified gaps in pre-service immunisation training of future health care workers.
Vorsters A, Tack S, Hendrickx G, Vladimirova N, Bonanni P, Pistol A, Metlicar T, Pasquin MJ, Mayer MA, Aronsson B, Heijbel H, Van Damme P.
Vaccine. 2010 Feb 25;28(9):2053-9. Epub 2009 Dec 25.

Parental hesitation in immunizing children in Utah.
Luthy KE, Beckstrand RL, Callister LC.
Public Health Nurs. 2010 Jan-Feb;27(1):25-31.

Cervical cancer screening in young women: saving lives with prevention and detection.
Warman J. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2010 Jan;37(1):33-8


HPV prevention update. New vaccine offers additional options.
Klisz C, Kaplan C.
Adv Nurse Pract. 2009 Nov;17(11):28-9, 54. No abstract available.

Why health care workers decline influenza vaccination.
Moore BS.
AAOHN J. 2009 Nov;57(11):475-8.

Influenza 101: reliable school nurse references.
Ilardi D.
School Nurse News. 2009 Nov;26(5):15-9. No abstract available.

Public health and nursing: a natural partnership.
Savage C, Kub J.
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009 Nov;6(11):2843-8. Epub 2009 Nov 16.

Uncertainties and anxieties about vaccination, answering parent's concerns.
Purssell E.
J Pediatr Nurs. 2009 Oct;24(5):433-40. Epub 2009 Jun 21. Review.

Anal Pap smears: Should we be doing them?
Lindsey K, DeCristofaro C, James J.
J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2009 Aug;21(8):437-43. Review.

A qualitative study to assess school nurses' views on vaccinating 12-13 year old school girls against human papillomavirus without parental consent.
Stretch R, McCann R, Roberts SA, Elton P, Baxter D, Brabin L.
BMC Public Health. 2009 Jul 21;9:254.

Public health management of perinatal hepatitis B virus.
Libbus MK, Phillips LM.
Public Health Nurs. 2009 Jul-Aug;26(4):353-61.

Influenza vaccination by registered nurses: a personal decision.
Gallant DM, Vollman AR, Sethi S.
Can J Infect Control. 2009 Spring;24(1):18-22, 24, 26.

Effect of intensive education on knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding upper respiratory infections among urban Latinos.
Larson EL, Ferng YH, McLoughlin JW, Wang S, Morse SS.
Nurs Res. 2009 May-Jun;58(3):150-7.

Understanding HPV disease and prevention: a guide for school nurses.
Lockwood-Rayermann S, McIntyre SJ.
J Sch Nurs. 2009 Aug;25(4):261-9. Epub 2009 Apr 10.

Championing school-located influenza immunization: the school nurse's role.
Li C, Freedman M, Boyer-Chu L.
J Sch Nurs. 2009 Feb;25 Suppl 1:18S-28S

Human papillomavirus, current vaccines, and cervical cancer prevention.
Teitelman AM, Stringer M, Averbuch T, Witkoski A.
J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2009 Jan-Feb;38(1):69-80.

Influenza season: are you ready?
Kapustin J.
Nurs Manage. 2009 Jan;40(1):20-7; quiz 27-8.


Ethics and the HPV vaccine: considerations for school nurses.
Bennett MP.
J Sch Nurs. 2008 Oct;24(5):275-83.

The HPV vaccine: rates, attitudes and acceptability
Theroux R.
Nurs Womens Health. 2008 Oct;12(5):423-6.
Erratum in: Nurs Womens Health. 2009 Feb;13(1):10.

Incorporating immunization services into reproductive health care.
Hackley B.
J Midwifery Womens Health. 2008 May-Jun;53(3):175-87; quiz 284-5.

Sexually transmitted infection/HIV risk reduction interventions in clinical practice settings.
Jemmott LS, Jemmott JB, Hutchinson MK, Cederbaum JA, O'Leary A.
J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2008 Mar-Apr;37(2):137-45.


What school nurses need to know about cervical cancer, HPV, and the new vaccine.
Ehrhardt J.
J Sch Nurs. 2007 Dec;23(6):310-4. Review.

Public health perspectives on the rising incidence of pertussis.
Judelsohn RG, Koslap-Petraco MB.
Public Health Nurs. 2007 Sep-Oct;24(5):421-8.

Prevent shingles with Zostavax.
Laustsen G, Neilson T.
Nurse Pract. 2007 Jun;32(6):6-7.

Healthcare workers and influenza vaccination. Commentary on Canning HS, Phillips J & Allsup S (2005). Healthcare workers beliefs about influenza vaccine and the reasons for non-vaccination - a cross-sectional survey.
Journal of Clinical Nursing 14, 922-925.
Siriwardena AN.
J Clin Nurs. 2007 Jun;16(6):1186-8. Review. No abstract available.

Influenza vaccination rates and motivators among healthcare worker groups.
Christini AB, Shutt KA, Byers KE.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2007 Feb;28(2):171-7. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

Will carrots or sticks raise influenza immunization rates of health care personnel?
Lugo NR.
Am J Infect Control. 2007 Feb;35(1):1-6.

Related resources

  • Vaccine Safety Thimerosal in Vaccines
    Background on the use of Thimerosal as vaccine preservative, studies on safety and effectiveness of Thimerosal, and a table of the Thimerosal Content of Vaccines Routinely Recommended for Children 6 Years of Age and Younger. Source U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
    The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety surveillance program co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). VAERS is a post-marketing safety surveillance program, collecting information about adverse events (possible side effects) that occur after the administration of vaccines licensed for use in the United States.


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