Pediatric ED leaders interested in implementing a screening protocol to boost flu vaccination rates in children should rely on quality improvement principles, advises Shannon Baumer-Mouradian, MD, BS, a pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

When forming a team to lead the effort, include physician and pharmacy representatives as well as nursing leaders and frontline representatives.

“The nursing staff [members], who administer close to 85% of our vaccines, really need to be involved in both the planning and implementation process,” Baumer-Mouradian stresses. “You’ve got to get buy-in from your nursing staff. It means so much more when it comes from colleagues rather than through a top-down approach.”

Also, an EMR or IT support person is essential for EDs planning to embed their vaccination screening protocol into the EMR workflow.

Abigail Kleinschmidt, DNP, CPNP-PC, RN, CPN, a pediatric nurse in the ED at Children’s Wisconsin, says it is important for leaders to provide education “early and often” to all providers involved with a flu vaccine program like this. This includes weekly emails filled with community-level flu data, along with statistics regarding how many vaccines were administered and the percentage of patients screened.

“We use those same emails to help brainstorm and solve any bumps in the road,” Kleinschmidt adds. Leaders must find a way to reach all the providers, especially the residents. “We have a lot of residents rotating through often, so it falls on nurses to explain to them how the process [works],” Kleinschmidt says. “Catching them early saves everyone a little headache.”

Lastly, be sure to identify flu vaccination champions. The weekly emails at Children’s Wisconsin include information about nurses who have ordered the most vaccines. “An effort to promote a little healthy competition and provide recognition,” Kleinschmidt says. “Recruit nurses who are passionate about immunizations. That can be a big help toward solidifying teamwork between the nurses and doctors.”