MAYWOOD, Ill. – Ann Andreoni, DNP, RN, CPNP, recently earned the Immunity Award from the American Nurses Association. Dr. Andreoni is a pediatric nurse practitioner and an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing (MNSON) who was recognized with this national award for raising immunization rates and educating the public about the benefits of protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Nurses play a critical role in raising awareness about the importance of immunizations,” Dr. Andreoni said. “I was honored to be recognized for my work in this aspect of public health."
The national award is part of the Bringing Immunity to Every Community project, a partnership between ANA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maximize the role of nurses in increasing vaccination rates and reducing incidence of diseases. The project seeks to increase nurses’ knowledge and competency in immunization, encourage nurses to be vaccinated and position nurses as leading advocates for immunization. The ANA and CDC promote vaccination programs as among the most effective and cost-efficient ways to prevent disease and death, and to protect entire communities from the spread of infectious diseases.
Dr. Andreoni took her message about the importance of immunizations directly to parents of low-income and immigrant students at urban elementary schools. She has served as a role model for nursing students by demonstrating how advocacy and planning can result in a successful community intervention. While working in her clinical practice at the School-based Health Center at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., Dr. Andreoni recognized that many children did not have a regular primary-care provider or health insurance. She designed, implemented and evaluated a pilot program to provide a free seasonal influenza vaccine to children and a low-cost vaccine for staff in three elementary schools in communities near the high school. The program will be expanded to include students in all 10 elementary schools in District 89 this fall.
With assistance from school-based health clerks and educational materials in English and Spanish, Dr. Andreoni and her nursing students met with parents during parent-teacher conferences and arranged individual meetings to help them learn about the immunization program and to get written consent for their children to be immunized. More than 350 students received the seasonal influenza vaccination in school as a result of the team-based approach to communications, education and vaccine administration.
“Ann has been invaluable in protecting the health of young people in our community,” said Dean Vicki Keough, PhD, RN-BC, ACNP, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. “Her work has helped us understand the most effective way to encourage in-school immunizations.”