DNP students receive grant to educate expectant mothers on Tdap vaccine

Funding from AACN, CDC will support efforts of McAlister, Wurttemberg to safeguard babies against whooping cough
By Jimmy Creed
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students Cari McAlister, MSN, CRNP, WHNP-BC, A-GNP-C, and Ginny Wurttemberg, MSN, APRN, CNM, have received a one-year, $4,000 grant to promote the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine to expectant mothers -- especially those in Hispanic communities -- as a safeguard against neonatal pertussis, commonly called whooping cough.  

With the support from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), McAlister and Wurttemberg will put together a program to educate women at their respective clinics in Anniston, Alabama and Atlanta on the need to receive the vaccine during pregnancy.

The program will include bilingual handouts and an educational video that will be produced with both English- and Spanish-speaking narration. The AACN/CDC grant will cover the cost of producing the handouts and video, six tablets that will be used by patients to view the video and a small amount of the Tdap vaccine. C McAlister G WurttembergCari McAlister, left, and Ginny Wurttemberg are excited about their project to produce a video that will explain to expectant mothers the importance of receiving the Tdap vaccine to prevent neonatal pertussis or whooping cough.

"This program is about offering the Tdap vaccine and encouraging women to get it during pregnancy which will help prevent neonatal deaths from pertussis," McAlister said. "People can transmit it and not even realize they have it, and infants have no immunity to it if the mother doesn't get the vaccine. So this is going to protect our babies."

The project particularly hits home with Wurttemberg, whose practice in the Atlanta area serves a predominantly Hispanic population. 

"When Cari and I started talking about this project, I started doing some research and realized that Hispanic babies die more from neonatal pertussis than any other population group," Wurttemberg said. "I have such a passion for my patient population that I decided it would be great to see if we could increase that vaccination rate and educate them more about pertussis."

By mid-October, the two plan to have written a script and produced their video, which they will show to expectant mothers who come to various clinic locations for their 26- to 28-week visit. During the hour or so it will take the women to have blood drawn for a glucose tolerance test, they will be given a tablet and asked to watch the video in the appropriate language. Then they will meet with a provider who will go over the information to again stress the importance of the vaccination and ask if they would like to receive it as part of that day's visit.

"We will actually start talking with them about it at the first prenatal visit, tell them why we want them to have the Tdap, and tell them to research it if they want to," McAlister said. "At the 26- to 28-week visit we will have them watch the video and offer them the vaccine that day if they want it. If they want to think about it some more, we will keep offering it each time they come for a visit."

The immediate goal is to increase the number who receive the Tdap vaccine, but as part of their research McAlister and Wurttemberg also plan to track patients who watch the video and ultimately decline the vaccine versus those who request it. They hope this information will help them determine other ways to convince expectant mothers of the life-or-death importance of the Tdap vaccine.

If a pregnant woman receives the Tdap vaccine, her body produces pertussis antibodies which pass to the unborn child. When the child is born, those antibodies provide some protection until the infant begins the vaccination process.  

McAlister will use one tablet in her practice in Anniston, and Wurttemberg will use one tablet in each of five practice locations in Atlanta.

"My practice is extremely excited about this because we have never done anything like this before," Wurttemberg said. "The people in my practice have such huge hearts for the Hispanic population that they want to do anything they can to improve health care for our patients."

The desire to improve health care is at the heart of this study for all involved, McAlister said.

"My practice started offering the Tdap vaccine, and I started researching why," McAlister said. "I heard in the media that California had a lot of deaths from an outbreak of whooping cough. I thought, "That's not good. We need to do something to fix this." This seems to be a good place to start."

Their advisor, Assistant Professor Donna Campbell Dunn, PhD, CRNP, CNM, FNP-BC, congratulated the two on their award.

"I am extremely excited and impressed with the hard work and dedication that Cari and Ginny exhibited in applying for and receiving this prestigious grant," Campbell said. "They are exceptional students and have continually demonstrated the mission of the UAB School of Nursing.”

For more information about the School's Doctor of Nursing Practice program, click here.
Read 9487 times Last modified on February 13, 2019

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