20 / 12 / 2016 3.16pm
In this blog, written by the first ambulance trust to ever reach 75 per cent uptake, you will find out how the trust over some of the logistical problems that comes with vaccinating staff who work off site and across a large region.
Flu vaccinations have had a historically poor uptake in West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS). Getting to all of the staff in an organisation that operates 24/7 and the size of the region has always been a challenge and a logistical nightmare. Over the years we have also heard every excuse and myth as to why they don't want to have the flu jab such as, it makes you ill, I won’t be able to move my arm, it doesn’t work and I don’t need it because I’ve never had flu – they’ve also never won the lottery, but still buy the tickets!
Each year WMAS achieved between 30 to 35 per cent uptake for flu vaccinations, so we needed to do things very differently to achieve what was required to keep our staff and patients safe.
This year, (roll of the drums and fanfare please……..) we achieved 75.16 per cent by the 9 December. This is the first time ever that an ambulance service has achieved the uptake target for flu vaccinations. This can be attributed to a trust wide effort from a leadership and management perspective right through to our vaccinators and staff who participated.
The driving force for our campaign was the formation of the Flu Vaccination Team headed by our chief executive, Dr Anthony Marsh, weekly senior team meetings chaired by our chief executive. Each meeting was focused on supporting the flu vaccination programme and each location so we could achieve the target. Results were then monitored at the weekly flu team meeting, which enabled the team to highlight where and what type of support was needed.
What we did
- A weekly communications plan highlighted a different element of the programme and provided regular league tables and timetable of clinics.
- Each area adopted different methods to encourage staff to have the vaccination, for instance on Halloween we had ‘trick or treat’ and vaccinations were delivered by wicked witches, and in December Santa’s grotto opened with an Elf vaccinator.
- Each location had different needs, which we took into account when making sure all staff had the opportunity to have the vaccination. Sites such as Patient Transport Services had visits from the mobile flu vaccinator team and flu bus, other areas had their own vaccine fridges and vaccinators at each site.
- Following staff feedback from our flu surveys, this year a ‘Love to Shop’ voucher was on offer for every member of staff who had the flu vaccination. We also have trophies for the best vaccinators, hubs, departments and innovators, which will be awarded in January when there is time to celebrate our success.
In conclusion, our chief executive set out the direction from the start of the campaign, including what was expected from senior managers and the flu team as well as a firm vaccination target. We all worked very hard to achieve, including the dedicated vaccinator teams went that the extra mile on many occasions to help us achieve the target.
In January, we will start to plan next year’s campaign using lessons learnt from this year, and we hope this record high uptake is the turning point for all ambulance trusts.