The Basics of Pediatric Immunizations

Elizabeth Farren, PhD, RN; Melanie McEwen, PhD, RN


NAINR. 2004;4(1) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

This article addresses the basic information regarding immunizations that all nurses who care for infants and children should know. It presents a brief overview of immunology and the history of immunization science. Immunization standards, techniques of administration, and the handling of immunobiologics are discussed along with current vaccines, toxoids, and immune sera. Public laws and governmental support resources relating to immunizations are presented as well as are special circumstances, such as foreign adoptions, breastfeeding infants, and those who are immunocompromised. Finally, the pediatric immunization schedule is presented and selected vaccine-preventable diseases are discussed.

A hundred years ago, infectious diseases were widely prevalent throughout North America and Europe. Indeed, in 1900, 4 of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States were attributed to them.[1] Immunization has greatly reduced deaths from infectious diseases and has resulted in the eradication of smallpox, the elimination of polio in most countries, and the widespread control of many other diseases, including measles, rubella, tetanus, and diphtheria.

Immunization administration is both a privilege and a responsibility for many nurses. It is almost always the nurse who screens for need, teaches parents and guardians about precautions and aftercare, and actually administers the immunizations. The art of immunization requires the provider to apply sound knowledge of vaccines and their administration with careful analysis of an individual's risk. This article addresses the basic information regarding administration of immunizations that all nurses who care for infants and children should know.


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