Originally Published Sep 5, 2011
Laura Wood, school nurse at Rincon Elementary School in Effingham County in the Coastal Health District, is no stranger to talking to parents about the importance of immunizations. She knows that kindergarteners must have a current immunization record and that the health department will periodically assess that record. She also knows that the hygiene and infection control practices for young students leave a lot to be desired.
So when school was about to start and one of Laura’s co-workers and acquaintances confessed that she had not gotten her five-year-old daughter the vaccinations she needed, Laura had to act fast.
“As the school nurse, I usually remind parents about how important immunizations are not only to children in general, but also to their specific child,” she said. “But I often hear from parents that they ‘didn’t have the heart to take their children to the health department to get their shots.’ And that’s exactly what my co-worker told me.”
Laura decided that the best way to handle the situation was to offer her personal assistance. Laura went with her co-worker and her co-worker’s daughter to the Effingham County Health Department to get the child’s Varicella, MMR, IPV, and DTaP immunizations. Laura registered the child while mom waited nervously in the car. The stress level was high but after the first two immunizations were given, the brave little girl realized that it really wasn’t as bad as she thought it was going to be.
“Thanks to the help of our local health department nurses, we got all four immunizations done quickly and everyone left smiling,” said Laura. “The moral of this story is that understanding the importance and necessity of immunizations doesn’t always take away the fear but persistence and consistency will get the job done.”
Public health nurses work closely with school nurses, like Laura, to make sure that children are up-to-date on immunizations. It is critical that nurses from public health and county school systems have the same immunization information so that all children in our communities are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Georgia Department of Public Health’s 18th Annual Immunize Georgia Conference is one of the reasons to invite local school nurses to attend on September 15 in Macon, Georgia. School nurses can register and call 404-367-2766.
The partnership between public health nurses and school nurses is key to ensuring that all children in Georgia get the best protection against childhood illnesses.