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Peer vaccination key to improvement in University Hospital Waterford’s (UHW) staff flu vaccine uptake

Peer vaccination UHW

35 trained and active peer vaccinators are the key to University Hospital Waterford’s (UHW) huge improvement in the uptake from staff of the annual flu vaccine.

 Last year, 68.8% of staff at the south-eastern hospital got their flu jab, a rise of 21.4% from the previous year.

 Director of Nursing Orla Kavanagh explained that the level of activity from the peer vaccinators on the staff has been the secret to their success.

“We have 35 peer vaccinators active in the hospital at the moment. It means that staff have access to the flu vaccine 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And not only do we have our flu vaccine clinics, we have mobile vaccine stations where the peer vaccinators can walk around with their trolley and bring the vaccine with them to the clinical areas so staff don’t have to leave their work area,” said Orla.

“It also helps to reduce the queues at the clinics which is important during COVID-19. We can come to you to give you your vaccine whenever and wherever.”

The hospital has an Influenza Governance Group which meets every seven to 10 days to monitor the uptake and plan ahead.

 “We meet very regularly and it allows us to have data in real time and constantly monitor progress. We can see which disciplines or areas in the hospital that haven’t been as active in getting their vaccine and target those areas. If the uptake drops in a particular week, we can start looking at new incentive campaigns that we can work on,” said Orla, who has secured prizes for staff to enhance uptake.

 Flu Champion

Clinical Placement Coordinator Gemma Poole is the flu champion for UHW and rosters the vaccinators to maximise the availability of the vaccine for staff. In addition, there is a steering committee to streamline information to vaccinators to ensure all updated information required is available.

Tackling the usual myths around the flu vaccine has been part of the staff campaign for UHW peer vaccinators.

Survey staff

“At last year’s Staff Wellness Day, we were able to survey staff about why they got the vaccine or why they chose not to. By understanding what people’s views were, we were able to target the areas that we needed to give people more information on,” said the Director of Nursing.

 She noted that there has been a greater appetite for the vaccine this year since the pandemic hit.

“People are a lot more cautious this year and are much more aware of flu or COVID-like symptoms. They are definitely a lot more keen to be protected and to protect other people by getting the vaccine,” said Orla.