Healthcare Worker Influenza Immunization

How many healthcare workers get their flu vaccine?

Data Current as of February 2021

Higher numbers are better.

As of 2016, the Department of Health and Wellness is reporting healthcare worker influenza immunization data twice a year.

The data will be posted at the end of December and February, during each flu season.

How is this measured?

Healthcare workers (HCW) includes employees and those who work for the hospital (e.g. nurses, physiotherapists, clerical staff) and doctors. These employees include both those who provide direct hands-on care to patients, and those who may not. Excluded however, are volunteers, some contract workers, and students. This rate is measured as the percentage of healthcare workers who received their flu vaccine at a flu clinic at their work, their doctor’s office or from a pharmacist.

HCW influenza immunization rate = Number of immunized HCWs X100
 
Total Number of HCWs at the IWK/Zone (NSHA)

What is Influenza?

Influenza or ‘the flu’ is a seasonal disease caused by influenza viruses which infect the respiratory tract (i.e., the nose, throat, lungs). Unlike other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people.  Anyone can get sick from the flu. Some people such as older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious complications from the flu.

How is Influenza spread?

The flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. People with flu can spread it to others when they are up to 6 feet away.  Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
People with the flu can spread the virus beginning the day before they feel sick. They can pass on the virus until their symptoms have ended (about 5-7 days for adults and longer for children). The best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting an influenza vaccination or ‘flu shot’ every year.

Why should healthcare workers get their flu shot every year?

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in Canada recommends all healthcare workers get their flu vaccine every year. Influenza can be a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death, especially for those with certain health conditions. These health conditions include chronic lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease, neurologic conditions and pregnancy. Since healthcare workers often care for people at high risk for influenza-related complications, it is very important for them to get the flu vaccine every year. Getting the vaccine every year is important because influenza is unpredictable, flu viruses are constantly changing and immunity from vaccination declines over time.

Why is this important?

Ensuring healthcare workers get the flu vaccine can protect patients from getting influenza and help prevent influenza outbreaks. Measuring, monitoring and reporting the rate of healthcare worker influenza immunization can assist hospitals with evaluating the effectiveness of their occupational health/infection prevention and control programs and explore ways to increase the number of healthcare workers who get the flu shot.

What should the rate of healthcare worker influenza immunization be?

While it is best to have all healthcare workers immunized, in Nova Scotia, we would like to meet or exceed the national target of 80%. Historically, this rate is usually around 50%.

What can you do to help?

If you are a healthcare worker, get your flu vaccine every year.

All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get their flu vaccine every year. This is provided free of charge.

During flu season it is also important to:

  • Remind all staff caring for you to clean their hands when they enter your room and when they leave;
  • If you are feeling sick, do not visit patients in the hospital.
  • When family or friends visit you, it is important they clean their hands frequently during the visit and again when they leave.
  • Talk to your care provider, such as your nurse, doctor or pharmacist, if you have any questions about the influenza vaccine.

Protocol

Read the Protocol for HCW Influenza Immunization Rates.