Teaching old dogs new tricks: a program to improve staff immunisation rates

Mrs Penelope Guerra1,2, Miss Annelise Plummer2, Mr Jonathan Chrimes2, Ms Lynette Hutchison2, Ms Susan McLellan1,2, Ms Pauline Bass1,2
1Alfred Health Staff Immunisation and Exposure Management Unit, Melbourne, Australia,

2Alfred Health Infection Prevention and Healthcare Epidemiology, Melbourne, Australia

Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at increased risk for acquiring vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), and immunisation of clinical staff in healthcare is therefore recommended and endorsed nationally. In 2016, we performed an audit of existing staff to determine vaccination status and inform development of a workforce immunisation program (WIP) at our large tertiary facility. The objective of this study was to determine if there were specific HCW groups with low compliance.

Two nurse immunisers were employed to provide a mobile immunisation service as a catch-up campaign (Jan-Jul 2017) and as an adjunct to an existing WIP. The campaign was developed to assess immunity of HCWs and to offer vaccination where appropriate. NHMRC immunisation guidelines formed the basis of the recommended schedule. Internal organisation targets were 95% and 75% for high- and low-risk departments, respectively.

1279 HCWs were assessed in 16 high-risk clinical departments, with 245 (21%) identified as having an incomplete vaccination record. Of these, 56% were followed up and immunised. 2565 HCWs were assessed in 50 low-risk departments, with 658 (26%) identified as having an incomplete record. Of these, 19% were followed up with immunisations. Those not encountered during the campaign (n=612) included: nursing (55%), medical (29%) and allied health staff (17%) were contacted with a request for review.
A significant proportion of staff spanning all clinical departments do not have complete vaccination records. While a mobile campaign successfully facilitates vaccination, additional methods for engaging non-immunised staff, particularly nursing staff, are also required.

Penny completed her nursing degree in 1999. Following then she worked in cardiothoracic nursing. She later developed an Infection Control interest, completing her Certificate in Sterilisation and Infection Control in 2006. She has been working in Infection Prevention for 11 years, currently employed at The Alfred. Penny is an expert Credentialed Infection Control Practitioner and an Accredited Nurse Immuniser with a special interest in Vaccine Preventable Diseases.

Career highlights include presenting at local and national conferences; co-authorship in a chapter on Infection Control and Asepsis; and the production of ‘Glen’s Story’ a story-telling video on the personal impact of HAI’s.

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