If there is one good thing that has come out of this flu season then it is the awareness of vaccination. In years past, on the average we have had 45% vaccine coverage for hospital employees. This has been abysmally low to offer any real herd immunity. This year with an aggressive proactive approach with formal lectures and informal face to face discussions with groups of hospital staff discussing the benefits, myths. We have a record >75% seasonal vaccine coverage. Most of the recipients were taking influenza vaccine for the first time. We may actually run out of seasonal vaccine for the first time.
With regards to H1N1, we did start with live attenuated intranasal last week and had a high acceptance rate among those who qualified. Unfortunately many of the motivated staff did not qualify. This week we did receive inactivated injectable vaccine. The acceptance rate for this has been very good. I did need to go on an education round in the hospital and answer more question. But once a few staff members got motivated more and more followed. I think we will have a good coverage for H1N1 too.
Some factors promoting better acceptance may be the larger numbers of 20-49 year olds that are coming to the hospital with moderate to severe viral pneumonia. A few have required intensive care management. The number of patients coming to the ER with influenza like illness (ILI) has seen a sharp spike in the past week. The proportion of ILI that are influenza A positive has gone up from 3-5% in the weeks of Oct 5th and 12th to 18% in the week of Oct 19th.
So far very few complaints about getting vaccinated aside from the minor injection site aches and pains.