Mar 24, 2009 – The annual meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America took place Mar 20-22 in San Diego. This News Scan Special Edition wraps up interesting research from that meeting on the difficult problem of increasing influenza immunization in healthcare workers. Lip-sync video makes case to healthcare workers for flu shotsUniversity of Pennsylvania Medical Center struggled to raise the rate of healthcare workers accepting annual flu shots, even with a 2-year-old “opt-out” program accompanied by mandatory education programs for those who refused. This year, though, flu-shot acceptance has risen 40%. What turned the tide was a home-grown music video, running on the hospital’s intranet and patient TV, that features healthcare workers lip-syncing to “Baby Be Wise—Immunize,” recorded by Penn’s undergraduate a capella group, Penn Yo.[YouTube video] 50-hospital survey finds commonalities in diverse flu-shot programsA nationwide survey conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, and the University HealthSystem Consortium in Oak Brook, Ill., found that programs to increase flu shots in hospitals vary regarding which employees they target and what strategies they use. However, the most successful programs had strong visible support from hospital leadership and provided after-hours and weekend access to vaccine. Unvaccinated healthcare workers highly vulnerable to fluFinally, a Canadian national survey suggested the potential risks to healthcare workers and their patients when workers are not vaccinated. A survey of healthcare workers in Toronto during the 2007-08 season, when the vaccine was poorly protective, demonstrated that 20% contracted flu. Moreover, 92% worked on the first day of their illness and 85% worked on every day that they were ill, increasing the risk of passing the disease to vulnerable patients. Strict medical or religious exemption policy raised ratesWashington University School of Medicine and healthcare organization BJC HealthCare increased vaccination rates among workers by making flu shots a condition of employment unless the employee could show proof of medical or religious necessity. Employees claiming religious exemption were required to write a letter to human resources; employees claiming medical exemption, such as prior hypersensitivity to flu vaccine or to the eggs in which it is made, were required to present a letter from a physician. Employees who were not vaccinated and could not prove exemption were terminated. Vaccination rates rose to 98.4%. ‘Push-pull’ campaign inspired by bioterror response plans increases vaccinationFlushing Hospital Medical Center outside New York City almost doubled healthcare workers’ willingness to take flu shots by deploying a persuasion strategy borrowed from mass-disaster planning. The technique, called “push-pull,” starts with intensive education on every hospital unit; personnel who either accepted the shot or signed a form declining it were given an ID-validating sticker for their badges. The following day, all employees were directed to a single hospital entrance, and those without stickers were steered to a vaccination team for a second go-round. Vaccination rose from 38% of staff to 60%.
“We are now back to four points behind, we have a game in hand and we’ve played two away games on the trot now. “We have five games at home and we will see. It makes, of course, the next game a very big one. “We needed the three points after a disappointing result at Stoke and I think that was still on our mind. “Overall, we know to stay in the race it was vital to win and our away fans have been brilliant since the start of the season.” Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood struggled to contain himself at times at White Hart Lane and at one point threw his gilet at the dugout in anger. Despite that frustration and the fact Spurs have now lost three in a row, he could have few complaints with his side’s effort. “After going behind so early in the game, you fear the worst but they did me proud today,” Sherwood said. “They stuck together and took the game to Arsenal. We’re talking about a team pushing for the title here and we didn’t deserve to lose that game. I think we deserved to win it. “To be honest, I am a winner. I want to win and I would rather play bad and win the game. “Anyone that saw that game today will know we didn’t deserve to lose that. “They had one shot in the second half, when Mertesacker forced Hugo Lloris into a good save. “They came here to counter-attack and that is a credit to us. They did that pretty well in the first half but the boys stuck to their guns, we showed some quality. “We should have scored, it’s as simple as that. When we score, we go on to win the game because the momentum would have taken us there. “The crowd were fantastic, stuck with us all the way today and you would expect that when they are seeing the boys give that sort of effort.” The Gunners’ first win at White Hart Lane since September 2007 was far from easy and, in fact, they were fortunate to leave victorious. Tomas Rosicky’s thunderbolt after just 72 seconds proved enough in a tense north London derby, which only ended 1-0 thanks to Spurs’ wayward finishing and some wonderful defending. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was proud of the “special resilience” his players displayed in keeping Tottenham at bay and themselves in contention for the Barclays Premier League crown. Press Association Wenger was proud of the resilience shown by his side in a victory that sees Arsenal move into third in the standings and crucially closes the gap on leaders Chelsea to four points. “It is a huge result,” the Arsenal boss said. “We were under pressure to win before the game because of course it was a very important game. “Our early goal maybe influenced too much how we played because we missed a second goal and after that we wanted to protect the lead and sometimes we were under pressure. “Tottenham played well, we must say. For me, they were absolutely up for it and we needed some special resilience to get away with it. “As long as we didn’t score the second goal, of course it was a very tight game, but in the end, for us, it is a three massive points.” Wenger was quick to highlight the “exceptional” centre-back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for helping Arsenal over the line at White Hart Lane. The result was the ideal response to the defeat at Stoke in their last Premier League outing and may well prove a catalyst to success in next weekend’s trip to leaders Chelsea. “It gets us a bit closer to Chelsea and makes the game next week even more interesting,” Wenger said.