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What Nurse Practitioners and Their Patients Need To Know About the Latest Vaccines

Education Discusing the Latest Vaccinations

Help educate your patients on the latest vaccines and booster shots to ensure they remain on track with all their immunizations.

Several years ago, the subject of vaccinations was top of mind for everyone — both patients and providers alike. The search for a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the decline of in-person patient visits due to fears of transmitting the virus, left many unprotected throughout the early years of the pandemic. Once COVID-19 vaccines became available to the public, nurse practitioners (NPs) led the charge alongside the rest of the health care community to vaccinate and protect their communities against the COVID-19 virus.

Now, as your patients try to catch up with the busyness of their new normal, it is important that you continue to keep them informed and up to date with the latest vaccinations, especially during the winter season. In order to assist you with this, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) has gathered the latest immunization updates for quick and easy reference.

Protecting Against the Latest COVID-19 Variants

Although a large majority of the U.S. received their main series COVID-19 vaccine, intake of the updated COVID-19 boosters made available over the last few years has been less successful. This September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to help protect individuals against newly circulating strains of the virus. Despite being made available since the onset of the fall season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only 7.8% of children and 18.3% of adults have received the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine.

You can make an impact in immunization awareness by keeping your patients informed on the latest COVID-19 vaccinations. Review the FDA guidelines listed below to refresh yourself on patient eligibility, and, if applicable, encourage your patients to receive their updated COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Patients 5 years and older are eligible to receive a single dose of the updated vaccine. They may get vaccinated regardless of any previous vaccination, but patients will have to wait at least two months after their last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine to receive the updated shot.
  • Children 6 months through 4 years of age who have previously been vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible to receive one or two doses of an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The timing and number of doses will depend on previous vaccinations these patients have received.
  • Unvaccinated patients 6 months through 4 years of age are eligible to receive three doses of the updated authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or two doses of the updated authorized Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.

Combating Respiratory Syncytial Virus

The fall and winter seasons are also an important time for patients to protect themselves against the flu and other respiratory infections — like respiratory syncytial virus. According to the CDC, “respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization.” Despite the symptoms of RSV being similar to the common cold — runny nose, coughing, sneezing and fever — patients and their families should be aware that it can lead to more serious illness such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, making it essential to take preventative measures.

Thankfully, this year marks the arrival of the first ever RSV vaccine in the U.S. — providing adults over 60 years of age the opportunity to protect themselves against this respiratory infection. Adding to the good news, patients over the age of 60 who are making their appointments to receive their seasonal COVID-19 and flu vaccines can also get their RSV vaccine at the same time. Help spread awareness of this new preventive health measure among your patients by sharing the following CDC recommendations:

  • Adults 60 years and older should consult their health care provider to see if they may receive a single dose of RSV vaccine.
  • Pregnant patients can receive one dose of maternal RSV vaccine during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy, administered immediately before or during RSV season, to protect themselves and their children from this illness.
  • Parents can protect their infants and young children from RSV through infant immunization.

Vaccinate With Confidence by Accessing the AANP CE Center

You can help protect your patients against vaccine-preventable diseases. Earn valuable continuing education (CE) credit while continuing your immunization awareness journey by visiting the AANP CE Center to browse activities on various kinds of vaccinations, such as “Immunizations: Getting Your Families Ready for the School Year,” “Pneumococcal Vaccination Across the Lifespan” and more.

Browse Activities