Nurse immunisers are at the forefront of preventing the spread of infectious diseases and maintaining the overall wellbeing of our communities, with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as a stark reminder of their indispensable role.
By administering a wide range of vaccines, they contribute to herd immunity, reducing the risk of outbreaks and protecting vulnerable populations. Furthermore, nurse immunisers serve as educators, providing valuable information on vaccinations to promote informed decision-making.
In a world where the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases is ever-present, nurse immunisers stand as champions of preventive medicine, promoting health and saving lives through their expertise and dedication.
In this article, we dive into the role of nurse immuniser and provide insights on how to pursue this rewarding career path.
- Where do nurse immunisers work?
- What is the scope of practice of a nurse immuniser?
- What qualifications are required to become an immuniser?
- What ongoing learning requirements do immunisers have to meet to maintain recency in practice?
- What personal qualities and skills are important for an immuniser?
Where do nurse immunisers work?
Nurse immunisers have diverse work settings, including councils, where they administer school immunisation programs, GP practices, and working in First Nations communities.
Various organisations also employ nurse immunisers to administer annual flu vaccinations in workplaces. This role may involve working independently in small rural communities, serving as an integral part of a local GP practice, or functioning as a member of a larger multidisciplinary team, particularly in specialised areas like justice health, mental health, or oncology units.
It is important to check the regulations and guidelines specific to your state or territory jurisdiction when considering a career as a nurse immuniser.
“More than 50 million deaths can be prevented through immunization between 2021 and 2030” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023).
What is the scope of practice of a nurse immuniser?
The scope of practice for a nurse immuniser varies depending on your state or territory authority to practice and your professional designation. Therefore, it is important to review the relevant legislation to ensure you are practising within your scope.
Registered nurses typically have the autonomy to administer immunisations independently after completing the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) National Immunisation Program for Healthcare Practitioners course. This includes vaccinations listed on the National Immunisation Program schedule and potentially other immunisations or immunoglobulins in specific circumstances.
Enrolled nurses can also become immunisers by collaborating with a medical officer who prescribes the immunisations and working under the supervision of a registered nurse.
For a comprehensive summary of different professional designations and their respective scopes of practice, you can refer to the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.
What qualifications are required to become an immuniser?
To become an authorised immuniser, registered nurses must complete a Health Education Services Australia (HESA) accredited course at a minimum. Depending on your jurisdiction, there may be additional prerequisites, such as clinical experience and the need for regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to ensure recency of immunisation practice. If you completed an immunisation course before the availability of HESA-accredited courses (before September 2020), your course remains valid, provided you meet the recency requirements outlined at the time of your course completion.
ACN was the first organisation to receive accreditation from HESA for its immunisation course. Since then, ACN’s new and improved National Immunisation Program for Healthcare Practitioners course has been released and accredited. This course is available to the following healthcare professionals who hold national board registration:
- Registered nurses
- Enrolled nurses
- Registered midwives
- First Nations healthcare practitioners.
Please note that all healthcare professionals considering enrolment in the course must ensure their eligibility to independently administer immunisations by referencing the Department of Health and Aged Care policy in their respective state or territory.
“There are more than 25 safe and effective vaccines to prevent diseases, protect health throughout the lifespan, and help to prevent and mitigate outbreaks” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023).
What ongoing learning requirements do immunisers have to meet to maintain recency in practice?
In most jurisdictions, there are no specific requirements regarding the number of hours or outlined CPD to be completed. However, it is highly recommended for immunisers to engage in yearly CPD activities that focus on immunisation to ensure they maintain recency in their practice.
ACN offers a wide range of immunisation-specific CPD opportunities designed to assist immunisers in refreshing and enhancing their knowledge in the field of immunisation. These resources empower immunisers to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and best practices, contributing to the delivery of safe and effective immunisation services.
What personal qualities and skills are important for an immuniser?
An effective immuniser should possess a range of key qualities and skills. Strong knowledge, meticulous attention to detail, and excellent communication skills are fundamental, as they enable the immuniser to address the diverse needs of their clients effectively. Additionally, qualities such as empathy, patience, non-judgmental attitudes, and cultural sensitivity are indispensable for creating a welcoming and safe environment, especially for clients from diverse backgrounds.
It is worth noting that memorising the National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule, administration requirements, or pre-vaccination screening questions is not necessary, as all this information is readily available in the Australian Immunisation Handbook. Instead, an immuniser must be proficient in swiftly and effectively navigating the handbook to ensure the safety of their clients is consistently upheld. This expertise ensures that the immuniser can rely on authoritative guidelines and best practices to provide optimal care.
Being a nurse immuniser goes beyond the simple act of administering vaccines; it means being a dedicated advocate for community wellbeing and a strong supporter of preventive health care. The fulfillment gained from this role stems not only from the knowledge and skills you acquire but also from the countless lives you help protect.
If you are ready to pursue a rewarding career as a nurse immuniser, enrol in ACN’s National Immunisation Program for Healthcare Practitioners course today to become part of something truly meaningful and impactful. If you are already a nurse immuniser, check out our range of immunisation CPD courses to stay up-to-date with specialty topics of interest, including vaccines in pregnancy, travel vaccination and understanding vaccine hesitancy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Fast Facts on Global Immunization. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/immunization/data/fast-facts.html