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South Tipperary General Hospital wins Best Improver award for staff flu vaccine uptake


A rise of almost a quarter in the number of staff getting the flu vaccine has earned South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel the Best Improver Award at the National Immunisation Office’s staff vaccine awards.

Uptake of the flu jab among staff rose by 24.5% to 58.3% for the 2019-2020 flu season.

TJ White, Director of Nursing at the hospital, said the peer vaccinators among the staff were key to the success of the campaign.

“It was so important to bring them on board so the staff could see that getting the flu vaccine wasn’t just a directive from above, it was something their colleagues supported and endorsed,” he said.

The hospital used the Staff Wellness Day to promote the benefits of the vaccine and address any concerns that people had surrounding the flu jab. They regularly communicate with the staff with updates about the campaign.

“The whole team worked very hard to get the message out there, particularly through our use of social media posts. We wanted to engage with all disciplines throughout the hospital and I think we were very successful in doing that. We regularly have little prizes, something as simple as a travel mug, to keep people interested and keep the campaign on everyone’s minds,” said TJ.

“Sinead Horgan is our Flu Leader and she has been great in getting out around the campus talking to people and encouraging them to get the vaccine,” said the Director of Nursing.

He also noted that making the vaccine more easily available was also very important.

“Staff are working round the clock and many simply can’t make it to the flu clinic if they are just Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. So we make sure that the clinic comes to them, going around to the areas that people are working.”

TJ said that their campaign focused on making staff realise that they were protecting themselves, their patients and their families by doing something as simple as getting the flu vaccine.

“We tried to hit home with those basic messages, as well as tackling the misinformation that is out there about the vaccine,” he said.

He noted that there has been an ‘extraordinary demand’ for the vaccine this year.

“You see that often the people most resistant to change are now the first in line for the vaccine. Once there is support and encouragement at a local level, you get a better buy-in from staff. When they see the likes of the flu vaccine award that the hospital won, they get a great sense of pride from the acknowledgement of their efforts,” he added