Healthcare practitioners often face ethical dilemmas that challenge their personal morals, ethical principles, scientific understanding, and beliefs. These dilemmas require a professional and delicate approach, respecting the patients’ or guardians’ treatment preferences and decisions. One such example is the vaccination of children before they start kindergarten. While it is mandatory for children to be vaccinated in every state in America, there are exemption forms available for medical and religious reasons. However, when parents refuse to vaccinate their children, it directly impacts public health by compromising both individual and group immunity. Effective immunization coverage relies on achieving high population coverage (Galindo-Santana, Cruz-Rodríguez, & López-Ambrón, 2019).
Respecting Parental Concerns:
When encountering parents who oppose vaccinations for their children, advanced practitioners must respectfully inquire about their reasons. Many individuals object to government interference in decisions concerning their bodies or their children’s bodies. Various factors contribute to this trend, including how parents process and react to media news, their level of knowledge about vaccines, how they communicate information to each other (e.g., through anecdotes), and their concerns regarding stakeholders in the vaccination arena, such as the government and medical institutions (Bandari, Zhou, Qian, Tangherlini, & Roychowdhury, 2017). It is essential to acknowledge that parents may have been misinformed, and simply stating the law is not an effective approach to building trust, especially when there are doubts about government involvement. Advanced practitioners can counter misinformation by providing educational materials from reputable sources. While social media is easily accessible for medical information, finding accurate information supported by robust evidence can be challenging. Therefore, advanced practitioners play a crucial role in providing reliable and evidence-based information to parents. NURS 6512 Week 11 The Ethical Considerations of Assessment
Education and Future Vaccine Behaviors:
Education plays a paramount role in shaping the understanding of both parents and future generations regarding the benefits of vaccinations. Research by Maisonneuve, Witteman, Brehaut, Dubé, & Wilson (2018) emphasizes that early education can influence future vaccine behaviors, including participation in decision-making around adolescent vaccines, personal decisions regarding adult vaccinations, and decisions related to vaccinating their own children.
Throughout their careers, healthcare professionals continually face ethical dilemmas. The objective is to respect individuals’ autonomy while providing them with factual information. Bester (2018) argues that a just society has an obligation to protect children from serious vaccine-preventable diseases, and this obligation extends to identifiable individuals and institutions such as parents, healthcare professionals, government, and vaccine producers. As trusted professionals, nurses can leverage their position to facilitate informed decision-making among patients, backed by scientific evidence and clear explanations, thereby increasing public understanding and the importance of vaccinations. NURS 6512 Week 11 The Ethical Considerations of Assessment
Bandari, R., Zhou, Z., Qian, H., Tangherlini, T. R., & Roychowdhury, V. P. (2017). A Resistant Strain: Revealing the Online Grassroots Rise of the Antivaccination Movement. Computer, 50(11), 60-67. DOI: 10.1109/MC.2017.4041354
Bester, J. C. (2018). Not a matter of parental choice but of social justice obligation: Children are owed measles vaccination. Bioethics, 32(9), 611–619. DOI: 10.1111/bioe.12511
Galindo-Santana, B. M., Cruz-Rodríguez, E., & López-Ambrón, L. (2019). A Cuban Perspective on the Antivaccination Movement. MEDICC Review, 21(4), 64. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edo&AN=139005644&site=eds-live&scope=site
Maisonneuve, A. R., Witteman, H. O., Brehaut, J., Dubé, È., & Wilson, K. (2018). Educating children and adolescents about vaccines: a review of current literature. Expert Review of Vaccines, 17(4), 311-321.