ED Accreditation Update

Convenience, accessibility boost vaccination rates

One way to get your staff flu vaccination rates higher is to make it as easy as possible for them to obtain a vaccination, says David Ross, DO, an emergency physician at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, CO. Ross says his hospital's staff vaccination rate has risen from 63% to 73% in the past year.

"We have made immunization very accessible, and we offer it at no charge," he says. Each flu season, vaccination stations are set up within the hospital, and for a period of days or weeks, the vaccinations are offered at set hours, with an effort to hit all three shifts. "There are stations in the ED," notes Ross. "And even if you are not there during the designated period, you can come in and tell one of the nurses, 'I didn't get mine last week. Can I get it now?' and they will go to the Pyxis, because we always have some vaccine there."

The facility also has a strong awareness campaign, Ross continues. "Every year our newsletter will make an announcement, and we also communicate by e-mail and at our monthly meetings as the flu season starts," he says. "The nurse manager will also announce it to her staff and provide them with times and schedules, and we do the same with our own contracted ED group."

Perhaps the biggest impact is from a strategy, introduced last year, involved asking staff who declined a vaccination why they had done so. Ross says in many cases they had been vaccinated elsewhere, which allowed the hospital to count them as having been vaccinated.

It's critical to educate your staff about the importance of immunization, says Ross. "The key is to get across to anyone who does not understand that immunization is more likely to keep you healthy and avoid some potentially debilitating flu cases and lost wages," he notes.

Louise Kuhny, RN, MPH, MBA, CIC, senior associate director of standards interpretation for The Joint Commission, says the approaches Ross outlines are considered best practices for improving staff vaccination rates. "Making it convenient and easy to be immunized is important, because health care workers are so busy," she notes. "There is also growing recognition of the importance of a signed declination. It's good to know why people are refusing to be immunized."

(Editor's note: You can download a copy of a declination form free of charge at: www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4068.htm.)