To effectively support childhood vaccine programs for First Nations Peoples, Canada’s largest population of Indigenous Peoples, it is essential to understand the context, processes, and structures organizing vaccine access and uptake. Rather than assuming that solutions lie in compliance with current regulations, our aim was to identify opportunities for innovation by exploring the work that nurses and parents must do to have children vaccinated.
In partnership with a large First Nations community, we used an institutional ethnography approach that included observing vaccination clinic appointments, interviewing individuals involved in childhood vaccinations, and reviewing documented vaccination processes and regulations (texts). We found that the ‘work’ nurses engage in to deliver childhood vaccines is highly regulated by standardized texts that prioritize discourses of safety and efficiency. Within the setting of nursing practice in a First Nations community, these regulations do not always support the best interests of families. Nurses and parents are caught between the desire to vaccinate multiple children and the requirement to follow institutionally authorized processes.
The success of the vaccination program, when measured solely by the number of children who follow the vaccine schedule, does not take into consideration the challenges nurses encounter in the clinic or the work parents do to get their children vaccinated. Exploring new ways of approaching the processes could lead to increased vaccination uptake and satisfaction for parents and nurses.