A Few Bright Ideas for Becoming a "FluSafe" Facility
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This fact sheet presents the reoccurring and creative ideas that emerged from key informant interviews with Minnesota hospitals and long-term care facilities who had achieved a 90 percent or higher influenza vaccination rate among staff.
The interviews were conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health in spring 2010. We also sought input from other large health care institutions and specialty facilities in rural and metro areas of the state.
- Have mobile carts make several trips to each unit during all shifts.
- Offer peer vaccination on patient care units.
- Hold flu shot clinics at several different dates and times.
- Coordinate shot clinics with other activities like benefit fairs and meetings to make it easy for workers to attend.
- Promote night shift and evening shift vaccination.
- Keep a positive attitude! Above all else, this is key for engaging staff and promoting vaccine.
- Communicate in person and give employees opportunities to ask questions one-on-one. This helps get doubtful employees vaccinated.
- Promote vaccination to all employees whether they provide direct patient care or not.
- Break down vaccination rates by department and post them in the facility for all to see.
- Encourage department managers to take a sense of ownership for their rates and create a sense of friendly competition.
- Offer employees a small token as an incentive, like a piece of candy. Keeping patients healthy is the best incentive.
- Be sure education modules are fun and catchy. Use themes with matching slogans such as Star Wars themes, monkey themes (“don’t monkey around”), bear themes (“the bear facts”), or “kiss the flu goodbye” with Hershey’s Kisses.
- Enlist experienced nurses to act as “flu champions” who tirelessly vaccinate, “beat the drum,” advertise, encourage, and “bug people” to promote the vaccine.
- Inform new employees of the flu vaccination expectation at the time of hire, and make vaccine available to them right away if possible.
- Seek strong administrative support in order to achieve high rates. Ask administrators to send out an email or write a reminder in the employee newsletter.
- Incorporate flu vaccine education into the annual training curriculum for employees.
- Offer vaccination to immediate family members of employees. This helps shift the focus off the self-interest of the HCW and toward the importance of protecting the community.
- Participate in conducting a back-to-school flu vaccination campaigns to help promote early vaccination in addition to employee programs.
- Only use declination forms after exploring all other options.
- Expect to get less push-back than you might think for mandating declination forms.
- Offer declination forms online so employees can access them at their convenience.
- Offer preservative-free vaccine to those who declined to help convince them to get vaccinated.
- Try framing the declination form as a tool to record reasons why employees choose not to get vaccinated rather than as a way to refuse.
- Have HR follow up with employees who don’t return declination forms. Explain to employees that if they do not fill out a declination for an extended period of time, they can be removed from the work schedule.
- Use the declination form as an educational tool to explain the rationale for flu vaccination and to rebut specific reasons for declining.
- Require declination forms to be returned so you can collect data on specific reasons for declining and target education toward them.
- Suggest, as one facility did, that the medical director express strong support for the initiative by seeing employees for free if they need a medical exemption and by offering them one-to-one counseling.
- Be aware that implementing mandatory declination requires diligence in addition to support from all departments and employee unions.