Tips for your flu clinic
- Be aware that the CDC encourages all manufacturers and distributors to use a strategy that delivers vaccine to all providers in a comparable time frame. Partial shipments of vaccine should allow providers to begin offering immunization early in the season.
- Use multiple platforms to collect employee feedback throughout the year. Online and paper surveys, solicitations in employee newsletters, e-mail requests, posts on Facebook and Twitter, and staff meetings are all ways to engage employees in discussions and to encourage them to offer suggestions about the program.
- Similar tactics can be used to recruit more volunteers. Work with volunteers from previous years to encourage their colleagues to get involved. Another approach is to start a campaign to add volunteers to the team as early as the summer. Offer incentives such as gift cards for volunteering.
- Track participation each year you hold a flu clinic. This information lays the foundation for an ROI system leading to at least 80% participation.
What can Wellness Champions Do for You?
Wellness champions, company employees who serve as in-house advocates for a flu program, can promote and support the program in the following ways:
- Help spread the word about the location and times of the clinics.
- Be involved in the logistics of the program.
- Help find space for the clinics at their location.
- Distribute educational materials the day(s) of the clinic.
- Hold information sessions for staff about the program.
- If wellness champions are also nurses, they can administer the vaccine.
Based on research and employers’ experiences, best practices are beginning to emerge about how to increase participation in on-site flu immunization programs.
For many organizations, reaching the Healthy People goal of 80% immunization participation is a new goal to work towards. To help, here is a list of best practices both new and experienced clinic leaders can add to their tool kit:
The Importance of Convenience
Employers have found that providing varied channels for flu immunization helps improve compliance. Sanofi Pasteur held multiple clinics at different locations throughout flu season, along with adding a mobile cart to the mix. Baystate Health had success with a flu champion model, which allowed employees to get a vaccine without much preplanning. Those companies with on-site medical clinics also try to offer vaccinations at convenient times for employees. Across the board, successful vaccination programs take into account the importance of making access to flu vaccine convenient and fit within the structure of their organizations to accommodate varying schedules and preferences.
Role of Education
A study conducted by researchers at several highly regarded institutions found that misconceptions about flu vaccines present a real barrier to compliance. In the study, companies that followed a prescribed advertising campaign that included one poster per 20 employees, three e-mail reminders, and if possible, one flyer per employee, experienced almost an 11% increase in compliance.
Value of Communication
Employers have many platforms to spread the word about the importance of receiving flu vaccines. Depending on the culture of your workplace, communication can be accomplished through print materials, online resources, face-to-face sessions, and new media, such as podcasts. Multiple departments should be involved in planning the communication approach as a way to build support for the program within the company.
Senior Management’s Role
A few key ways that senior managers can be effective advocates for the program include showing support by being vaccinated themselves, offering free immunization for all employees, holding a meeting about the importance of being immunized, and being involved in the development of the educational campaign.
Planning among Departments
When multiple departments, such as human resources, medical affairs, internal communications, and public affairs, work together to develop a comprehensive campaign, there is a greater likelihood that more employees will take ownership of the program and support it. The planning process often includes weekly meetings, during which goals and strategies are developed. With more people engaged in the endeavor, more employees will be knowledgeable about the program, increasing the likelihood of broad support.
Identifying Wellness Champions
Employees at each site know the culture of their particular location and can help bring staff along. At Baystate Health, flu champions had the dual function of actually giving injections, which proved to be the cornerstone of the program. On-site champions also can help with logistics, such as finding a room to hold flu clinic, distributing educational materials, and helping in every way to ensure that the event goes smoothly.
The value of using incentives has been confirmed by research and experience. Incentives often take the form of points accrued that build to a decrease in the health insurance premium. They can also be part of a larger wellness initiative. Some companies offer monetary incentives such as gift cards to employees after they receive their vaccination.
Setting the Right Tone
Sanofi Pasteur was able to provide a welcoming and family-friendly environment at its events, which included games and activities for children and treats such as ice cream. While this practice is important, some companies found that the ease of getting vaccinated “on the fly” led to even greater compliance. This is why it is so important to talk with your employees to learn what is best for your organization.