The administration of medications, including vaccines, has been identified as a restricted activity under the Health Professionals Act. The British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) Limits and Conditions require registered nurses who autonomously compound, dispense or administer vaccines to possess the competencies* established by BCCDC and follow its decision support tools**. The BCCDC Immunization Competency Course has been recognized as the standard for assessment of immunization competencies. BCCNM
requires that travel nurses and registered nurses working in vaccine research complete the immunization course. Furthermore, many BC employers require nurses who administer vaccines to complete the course as a condition of employment. Many employers also require nurses to complete the competency renewal exam every 3 years. However all nurses are strongly encouraged to take the immunization course as part of their self-assessment and learning process.
The BCCDC online Immunization Competency Course consists of two components:
- The online Immunization Competency Course for Registered Nurses and RPNs (available for any registered nurse)
- The Immunization Skills Checklist (requires additional support from Employer, see below).
The first is the online course and exam. Registered nurses are required to achieve 100% on the exam in order to print a Record of Completion.
The second is the Immunization Skills Checklist. In work environments where completion of the course is specifically required either by the BCCNM Scope of Practice for Registered Nurses: Standards, Limits, Conditions or by the employer, a process will be in place for RNs to complete the supervised Immunization Skills Checklist. Registered nurses should enquire with their supervisors or Nurse Educators to determine what this process is.
If you are a registered nurse who works in a setting other than Travel Health, Vaccine Research or Public Health/Primary Care, please enquire with your employer about their support for you completing the course. It is important to assess prior to taking the course if your employer can provide support for the supervision and sign off of the Immunization Skills Checklist. There is currently no process in place for registered nurses to have their Immunization Skills Checklist supervised and signed off independent of their employers; however, even in the absence of the ability to complete the Immunization Skills Checklist, registered nurses are still encouraged to complete the BCCDC Immunization Competency Course online portion for their own continued learning.
*The BCCDC Immunization Competencies for BC Health Professionals were based on the Immunization Competencies for Health Professionals, Public Health Agency of Canada.
**The decision support tools maintained by BCCDC relating to immunization practice can be found in the BC Communicable Disease Control Manual, Chapter 1: Communicable Disease Control and Chapter 2: Immunization, Parts 1-5. The manual provides best practice guidelines that outline measures for the control of specific diseases and management of outbreaks, and direct the provision of immunization services in BC.
For public health nurses in BC who regularly immunize in their practice, the Renewal Exam for Public Health Nurses is available on LearningHub to assess ongoing immunization competencies.