Peterborough Public Health’s annual report on healthcare worker (HCW) flu shot rates shows more healthcare workers are choosing to receive the annual immunization as a way to protect themselves and their patients.
Staff immunization rates for 2018-19, collected as of December 15, 2018, put Peterborough ahead of the provincial median of 52.6% for hospitals and 72.8% for long term care facilities (LTCF). Last year, the rates for Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) and LTCFs were 72.3% and 79%, respectively. PRHC achieved a 9.7% increase in staff immunization rates over the previous influenza season, an impressive jump credited to the effective coordination of several internal programs plus incentivizing staff to get their flu shot.
Fairhaven also saw a significant increase in its staff flu shot rate of 15.4% over the previous season.
“Influenza vaccination provides benefits to healthcare workers and to the patients in their care,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “While we can always do better, it is impressive to see so many local healthcare workers getting the flu shot. Their leadership reflects how we all have to do our part to reduce the spread of this disease which can cause serious illness or even death to vulnerable residents.”
Dr. Salvaterra mentioned that one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of influenza in healthcare settings and the community is to create a “ring of immunity” around our most vulnerable residents. When more healthcare workers and community members get the flu shot, this ring of immunity is stronger.
Last year, Peterborough experienced a total of 10 institutional influenza outbreaks. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) considers the provision of influenza vaccination to be an essential component of the standard of care for all HCWs for the protection of their patients.
Influenza transmission and outbreaks in hospitals, LTCF and retirement residences can result in significant patient, resident and staff illness and mortality. Studies show that healthcare worker influenza immunization in chronic care/long-term care home facilities for the elderly reduces patient mortality.
This year’s flu vaccine has already been distributed to healthcare workers to protect those at high-risk, and will be publicly available through pharmacies and family healthcare providers.
Please see the chart below for a comparison of influenza immunization rates by local long-term care facility. Long-term care homes and hospitals are required by the Ministry of Health to report these rates to local public health agencies; this is optional for retirement residences. Peterborough Public Health will provide support to facilities who experienced a decrease in influenza immunization rates and is exploring strategies to address this.