Jeff Brooks 1, Janine Malcolm 1
1 Mercy Health, Werribee, VIC, Australia
There are inherent challenges when conducting the annual Influenza vaccination campaign to ensure that uptakes rates are adequate to protect employees and the vulnerable residents. Historically at Mercy Health Aged Care rates of uptake averaged 30- 40%. This is consistent with national figures for aged care employees. This rate is insufficient for good herd immunity, and may not afford a safe protection level during an influenza outbreak.
This was highlighted during a outbreak at one of our homes which lead to a review of past campaigns and provided drive for improvement.
Previous campaigns were restrained by the lack of resources particularly nurse immunisers and the travel required to cover all homes. This resulted in limited access to clinics for aged care employees. A review of the methodology and planning for future campaigns lead to a decision to upskill existing aged care staff to become nurse immunisers who not only provided enhanced access to clinics but also acted as a catalyst to encourage greater employee compliance.
Seven registered nurses were supported to complete the nurse immunisation program and together with existing nurse immunisers and a coordinated health promotion campaign achieved increased uptake rates amongst employees. It was also noted that where homes had a dedicated nurse immuniser on staff – rates were significantly increased with a number of homes achieving greater than 75% uptake.
We are able to demonstrate that by providing sufficient local expertise and resources and a planned approach we can significantly increase vaccination rates.