Nursing: Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis: Prophylactics and Clinical Updates

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Target Audience: Advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) have responsibilities that extend far beyond administering immunizations. ANPs are challenged to understand the significance of common communicable diseases, their prevention, recognition and care. More specifically, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis have the potential to cause significant illness and disability. It is imperative that professional nurses clearly understand these diseases, identify the risks and take the necessary steps to reduce the burden of illness.

Course Overview: This educational program is designed to provide an overview of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, covering important information related to their history, epidemiology, symptoms, complications, prevention and potential treatments. Since the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, (DTaP and Tdap) vaccine products are proven to be effective in preventing all three diseases, this course will describe their use in enough detail to facilitate its usage as a foundation of contemporary care.

Prior to the availability of efficacious vaccines, up to 200,000 cases of both diphtheria and pertussis were recorded annually in the United States. Although not as common, hundreds of tetanus incidences were also reported each year. The availability of vaccinations for these maladies has proven to be effective with incidences of tetanus and diphtheria reduced by approximately 99 percent. While not as impressive, systematic immunization for pertussis has blunted the occurrence of the disease by about 80 percent (CDC, 2017). Nonetheless, although these communicable diseases were once on the cusp of being eliminated, they continue to appear in the U.S.

This educational program endeavors to help counter these trends, illustrating the significant value of maintaining high-immunization rates, especially in vulnerable populations. This approach is critical to sustaining low levels of vaccine-preventable illnesses. ANPs, as immunization providers, are perfectly poised to ensure that vaccinations are administered in a timely manner to everyone who needs them. It is essential that ANPs strictly adhere to communicating the importance of immunizing, vaccination schedules and patient education on the safety of vaccinations to maintain high immunization levels. This course also presents strategies for prevention, education, recognition and care.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the hazards of infectious diseases to humans.
  • Describe how tetanus can be transmitted to humans.
  • Name three risk factors for contracting diphtheria.
  • Identify the most common cause of death associated with pertussis.
  • Describe differences between the adult and child immunization schedules for vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
  • List two contraindications and two precautions for the Tdap vaccine product.
  • Discuss two strategies that can be used to improve immunization rates.

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