Immunizations for Travel Nurses; What you Need and What’s Mandatory

by Howard Gerber on February 2, 2017

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travel nurse immunizationsNurses are often exposed to a variety of viruses and bacteria that could lead to serious illnesses. It may not be possible to prevent contracting everything. But there are steps you can take to keep yourself healthy. One thing you can do is to get immunizations for certain disease.

Although it can vary, certain immunizations may be required for nurses, while other vaccines may be recommended but are not mandatory. As a travel nurse, it’s important to determine which immunizations are required by the facility you’ll be working.  

Why Immunizations are Important for Travel Nurses

Healthcare workers, such as travel nurses, who provide direct patient care are at a higher risk than the public for contracting an illness. Nurses come in contact with people with all types of infectious diseases, such as tuberculous, meningitis, and the flu.

Immunizations are important to prevent getting sick. But that’s not all. Immunizations also help prevent nurses from inadvertently spreading an infection to their patients. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities usually prefer their staff to be fully immunized, not only to protect their patients, but to decrease the chances that staff members will be out sick.

Common Immunizations

Hospitals are trying to strike the right balance between protecting their patients and staff by requiring immunizations and not infringing on personal rights. There are various immunizations available including the most common ones listed below.

Hepatitis B: Hepatitis is a disease that involves inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B can be prevented by a vaccine, and healthcare workers are encouraged to get it. The vaccine is administered in a three-dose series. 

MMR: The MMR vaccine covers against measles and mumps. Some hospitals require proof you are immune to both diseases, or they require an immunization. The vaccine usually involves one dose.

Influenza:  The influenza vaccine protects against certain strains of the flu. The vaccine needs to be administered yearly. Many healthcare facilities require their staff to get a yearly vaccine or they must wear a surgical mask in patient care areas during the flu season. Check with the facility you will be working in for their policies regarding the flu vaccine.

Tdap: The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, pertussis, and diphtheria. It is highly recommended for nurses. The vaccine involves administering one dose and getting a booster every 10 years.

Refusing Immunizations

There may be some instances where travel nurses do not want to get a certain immunization or feel it is contraindicated. Will refusing an immunization prevent you from accepting an assignment? Probably not.

In most cases, healthcare facilities allow exceptions for immunizations. For example, there may be certain vaccines that are not recommended if you are pregnant. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, you should consult your doctor before getting vaccinated. Some people may also have religious reasons for refusing a vaccine. Exceptions for mandatory immunizations based on religion may also be accepted by some facilities.

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