Boosting flu shot effort one worker at a time

Hospital creates personalized effort

When it comes to influenza immunization, there's something to be said for a little one-on-one attention.

That's the concept behind this year's flu vaccination campaign at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, PA. Department managers will hand-deliver packets that are personally addressed to each of the hospital's 1,600 employees and volunteers.

The "Flu Survival Kit" packets have eye-catching labels and contain hand-sanitizing wipes with information on hand hygiene. There is myth-busting information about the flu vaccine that is based on comments by employees who signed declination statements last year. By turning in a completed word search puzzle from the packet, employees can be placed into a random drawing for prizes.

"They needed to be educated about the seriousness of the flu," says Sarah Brown, MD, director of the hospital's employee health service. "We had to dispel the myth that the flu vaccine causes the flu. We needed to emphasize the need [for them] to keep from giving the flu to their patients.

"You can transmit the virus to others from one to four days before you experience any symptoms of the flu. It's possible to transmit the flu virus before you even know you're sick. I don't think people realize that," she says.

Flu vaccination coverage has varied widely in the hospital. Some departments have attained 98% or even 100% coverage. Labor and delivery and the neonatal intensive care unit were among the highest.

Others were as low as 7%. The lowest rates were in offsite departments, such as physical therapy. "That told me I have to make a greater effort to go there more often and administer the vaccine," says Brown, who uses a roving cart to deliver the vaccine directly to the departments.