- Posted Wednesday October 11, 2023
As the winter months are upon us, the importance of a robust and effective flu vaccination programme cannot be overstated. The 2022-2023 flu season saw a resurgence in flu cases, surpassing levels seen even during the COVID-19 pandemic flu seasons.
This resurgence emphasises the need for a comprehensive approach to flu vaccination to mitigate the impact on public health and GP Practices, so maintaining public and professional confidence in the annual flu vaccination programme is key to its success.
Importance of Flu Vaccination
The upcoming 2023-2024 flu season is of critical concern not just because of flu, but the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary objective of the flu vaccination programme during this time is to reduce morbidity, mortality, and hospitalisations associated with flu, especially considering the pressures that winter places on the NHS and GP Practice services.
The Importance of Proper Training
Confidence, competence, and up-to-date knowledge are essential for those administering flu vaccines. To ensure high vaccine uptake and safe administration, vaccinators must possess a deep understanding of the vaccines and the vaccine programme (the National Minimum Standards for Immunisation Training set the foundation for training recommendations). This training should encompass the core curriculum, flu vaccine specifics, and the vaccinator's role in the programme.
Flu training should cover several core areas to ensure effective vaccination:
- Core Curriculum: Relevance to the vaccinator's area of practice.
- Flu Vaccines: Understanding the various vaccines and their administration.
- Vaccine Recommendations: Groups recommended for vaccination in the upcoming flu season.
- New Advice: Any novel advice or guidelines for the current flu season.
- Maximising Uptake: Strategies to promote high vaccine uptake while ensuring safety.
Supervision and Assessment
Supervised practice is essential for new vaccinators to develop clinical skills and apply theoretical knowledge. Competency assessment tools, such as those provided in the National Minimum Standards, aid in formal assessment and sign-off of clinical competency. Even experienced vaccinators can benefit from self-assessment to identify areas for improvement. Special attention should be given to those transitioning from COVID-19 vaccination to flu vaccination, as well as those returning after a prolonged absence.
Practical Skills and Work-Based Training
Developing clinical skills, competency, and confidence is pivotal. Work-based training allows for the observation and application of knowledge in practical settings. Work-based supervision by knowledgeable practitioners is crucial for safe and successful programme delivery. Training should also accommodate new vaccinators with limited prior experience, ensuring they are well-equipped for their roles.
Additional Considerations and Remaining Updated
Personal and professional responsibility lies with vaccinators to ensure their knowledge and skills are current. Protected study time and necessary technology access should be provided. Core training in areas like basic life support, anaphylaxis management, safeguarding, and infection control complements immunisation-specific training. Remaining updated entails staying informed about the latest guidelines and information sources from authorities like the Green Book, DHSC, NHSE, and UKHSA.
Contact Information for Support
Having a clear point of contact for guidance is essential. Local NHSE teams, UKHSA Health Protection Teams, and other relevant professionals should be readily accessible for vaccinators needing advice or clarification.
Tips for Running a Successful Flu Clinic
Executing a successful flu vaccination clinic requires meticulous planning and implementation. Here are some top tips:
- Efficient Booking: Book patients at one or two-minute intervals that optimise clinic flow.
- Vaccine Supply: Match bookings to delivery dates and ensure you have sufficient vaccine stock in the fridge.
- Vaccine Awareness: Make sure your staff are well-informed about different vaccines and their administration.
- Opportunistic Vaccination: Offer additional vaccines like shingles and pneumococcal vaccines.
- Optimised Scheduling: Book patients in batches to prevent gaps and no-shows so that you can fill any gaps.
- Resource Utilisation: Use all available clinical resources for efficient administration, e.g. every (trained) clinician and treatment room that you have available.
- Group Vaccination: If you have a big space like a meeting room, Set up tables and chairs for multiple vaccinations and reduce waiting times.
- Prioritisation: Stream patients based on vaccine type to streamline the process.
- PGD : Nurses can vaccinate using patient group directions and HCAs can operate from patient specific directions (PSD).
- Cold Chain Management: Designate a runner to collect vaccines from fridges to save time and ensure the cold chain is preserved.
- Structured Data Entry: Record vaccinations on a simple form so it can be collected for later input by your designated admin or other backroom staff.
- Patient Flow Management: Assign staff to guide patient flow and minimise any delays or confusion.
- Quick Check-In: Organise the check-in process with staff handling specific alphabetic sections, e.g. one person does A to G patients, another does H to M and so on.
- Avoid unnecessary distractions : as an example, don’t turn on PCs in a vaccination area to avoid any “I’ll just do this while it’s quiet” tasks that could take longer than necessary.
Are you up to date on your training?
When rolling out flu clinics (or indeed any similar campaign), leadership, teamwork and professionalism are crucial ingredient for success. Thornfields offers bespoke workshops on Exceptional Teamwork, Leading People in Primary Care, and Workplace Professionalism.