Background: In 2001, British Columbia (BC) initiated an immunization competency program for nurses working in public health settings. The initial program was a written exam. In 2004, the program was updated to include a “course overview” self-study guide, Initial Immunization Competency and Renewal of Competency examinations in an online format, and a skills check list for observed immunization practice. The program has been expanded through the development of an online Immunization Course for immunization providers in BC, launched in 2009.
Project Description: In 2008, the Public Health Agency of Canada published “Immunization Competencies for Health Professionals.” The competencies described in this handbook informed the development of the BC online course content, in the context of a “beginning practitioner” level. The sixteen course modules move the learner from “Vaccine-Preventable Diseases” through the immune system and vaccine immune response, to guidelines for immunization practice in BC. Legal and ethical issues, communication with parents, and the “Canadian Immunization System” are also addressed. The modules provide video clips, interactive diagrams, and links to relevant journal articles. Quiz questions within the course offer an assessment for learning, and activities are provided to facilitate knowledge application in the practice setting.
Results/Lessons Learned: The immunization competency program has been expanded from a “public health nursing only” program to a program available to Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Pharmacists, and nursing and pharmacy students. The course supports a provincial goal to expand the range of professionals trained to provide immunization services, and assists health professionals who provide immunization to be knowledgeable vaccine providers, educators and advocates for immunization. The diversity of course users has led to an environmental scan of immunization undergraduate curricula for different professions, as well as a plan to provide a course for professionals whose practice is focused on provision of immunizations to an adult population.