Supporting uptake of the seasonal flu vaccine

Case study: Learning identified by the CNO National Shared Professional Decision-Making Council

Background to learning

As the initial peak of the pandemic subsided, NHS trusts and other bodies have focused on restoring key services while preparing for a likely second wave of COVID-19 infections alongside annual winter preparations.  The annual flu vaccination programme for NHS staff has long been a core part of winter preparedness. This year, given the potential for flu alongside significant levels of COVID transmission, the need to raise flu vaccination uptake among colleagues has been prioritised.

This case study reflects varied approaches to delivery of annual flu vaccination for staff and how these can be adapted to be COVID safe and further increase take-up.

Learning and advice to be shared

Members reflected on the many existing approaches that continue to be effective in engaging colleagues:

  • Introducing a competitive element including ‘league tables’ and rewards for the best performing teams.
  • Giveaways – such as badges and pens to raise awareness of the vaccination programme
  • Establishing a network of flu champions who are seen positively and can encourage uptake and dispel any misinformation about the vaccination among nursing colleagues.

However, council members considered that some of the more tried and tested approaches to providing vaccinations would need to be further adapted for practicing during the pandemic.  It had previously been possible for vaccinators to go along to training events as an opportunity to provide multiple vaccinations at the same time.  Now though, such large-scale training events were not being organised in order to ensure social distancing.  Similarly, ‘pop-up’ tent facilities to allow colleagues to drop-in for a vaccination could easily cause a social distancing risk among staff.

To address these challenges council members highlight examples of:

  • Peer vaccinators based in wards and units are often utilised in trusts where it helps increase accessibility for staff while reducing the need for them to leave their own ward or unit and have to potentially mix with other staff beyond their teams.
  • ‘Drop-in‘ approaches to be accessed through ‘on-line’ booking systems to help maintain social distancing and avoid busy peak times.
  • Designated staff administering vaccines for all shifts to ensure late shift staff had the same access to vaccinations.

Would it be beneficial to retain these changes?

Although the importance of the flu vaccination is heightened by the pandemic, the vaccination remains vital to winter preparedness and is recognised as being a key way that staff can help keep themselves and vulnerable patients protected during seasonal flu outbreaks.  These adapted approaches to staff vaccine delivery can offer more convenience to staff and could support increased levels of vaccine participation.

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