Champion Spotlight: Brittany Bradshaw
As a pediatric nurse, Brittany Bradshaw has witnessed the repercussions of missed immunizations firsthand. She speaks about what inspired her to pursue a path in nursing, which has driven her advocacy work to improve vaccine access.
Shot@Life: What brought you to Shot@Life? Why do you choose to advocate for vaccines.
Brittany Bradshaw: I have been working in pediatrics for 16 years, and I know the purpose that vaccines serve. I’ve seen children suffer the consequences of not receiving a set of vaccines, from being hospitalized to losing limbs.
When NAPNAP (Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Association) had sent out an email for the application period for Shot@Life, I signed up and was so excited when I got picked.
How do you think your profession influences your advocacy work?
I was able to draw from and explain to my representatives about what I saw firsthand during the COVID-19 pandemic. No one came to our office, and everyone was afraid. Nobody was scheduling routine checks nor coming in for their vaccines, which went on for two years. Just knowing what was happening at home, I can only imagine what was going on abroad.
Why did you choose to become a pediatric nurse?
My grandmother used to be a pediatric nurse at the practice that I’m working at now. She was one of the first nurses they ever had. She inspired me to pursue nursing.
When I started at the same office in 2007, I was 21. I worked there as a certified nursing assistant until 2012, which is when I was accepted in nursing school. So, I attended nursing school then came back to work as a pediatric nurse and nurse manager. Then, I had the opportunity to go back to school to pursue being a nurse practitioner. I applied to Duke University because they are the only university in the state that offered pediatric nursing. I got accepted and completed the course for my master’s in nursing then returned to the same practice.
As someone who has seen the medical side of the global immunization problem, do you think there is a gap in the information that policymakers receive?
I thought there was a huge gap, but everyone was so receptive and knowledgeable on Capitol Hill. Everyone was very informed, and they told me and our group that they were aware of the work that Shot@Life had done.
What issues do you believe policymakers should be prioritizing with regards to vaccination programs?
The eradication of polio for sure. It’s awesome that we only have two small countries left, since it is almost eradicated. But it makes me nervous here in the United States since, obviously, diseases don’t know borders. Since we have people traveling across the country, we should focus our efforts here because, if left untreated, there is a potential for an outbreak.
From your advocacy work, what are you most proud of?
This is so crazy. I actually just received an email from the district office of David Rouzer in Wilmington, and they offered me a spot on their Health Advisory Committee.
After Hill Day, I sent my thank you email to the legislative director, expressing how impressed I was with him and that I wanted to help in any way possible. Then, he reached out to the district office and advised that I would be a good asset to their team.
Are you excited for this new role? How do you feel about it?
I’m very excited to be a part of this. There is still distrust in vaccines, and I want to help fill the gap from the other side of it.
How do you hope to see your advocacy grow in the future?
I’m hoping that I can promote more from the district side of things or involve the Congressman’s office more in local events or reaching out to different schools to educate on the importance of vaccines.