Bratberg, Jeffery [faculty advisor, Department of Pharmacy]
Influenza; pharmacist; vaccinations; healthcare; policy
Influenza is a contagious virus that is spread by contact with infected people, including sneezing, coughing, and touching infected surfaces. Influenza leads to over 200,000 excess hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths yearly. The most successful way of preventing infection with the influenza virus is an annual vaccination. Yet studies show that national average for healthcare worker influenza vaccination is 40% and furthermore up to 70% of healthcare workers come to work despite being sick. This disparity puts patients at risk for developing influenza in the healthcare setting.
Pharmacists and pharmacy students can increase the total amount of healthcare workers and hospitalized patients vaccinated by providing their services as screeners and vaccinators in the hospital setting. A retrospective hospitalized patient analysis was performed to understand the differences between the number of patients admitted, screened, vaccines ordered and vaccines administered in the 2008 and 2009 influenza seasons. Also, a survey on healthcare worker vaccination was distributed to the employees of Roger Williams Hospital to understand the thoughts and opinions of the staff about pharmacist-led healthcare worker and inpatient influenza vaccination.
By analyzing the data from the retrospective analysis and healthcare worker survey, a pharmacist led intervention was designed for pharmacists to increase vaccination rates in the hospital by screening and administering vaccine. However, because of the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak, seasonal influenza vaccination rates increased despite seasonal influenza vaccine being in short supply. The hospital was not able to obtain vaccine during the study period for the intervention to take place. Even though the intervention could not be implemented this season, we are confident that there would be a significant increase in vaccination rates among healthcare workers and hospitalized patients using the intervention in future influenza seasons. Pharmacists are accepted by the healthcare community as collaborators in vaccination promotion and administration.