Only one third of healthcare workers getting ‘flu vaccine

Only one third of eligible healthcare workers availed of the ‘flu vaccine this year, according to the third annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS), which detailed the trend in immunisation rates against influenza among HCWs in participating hospitals over the past 6 years.  Maureen Browne reports.

It said that in 2016-2017, a total of 51 hospitals (including five private hospitals) participated in its survey.

Although overall vaccine uptake among HCWs increased annually over the past 3 years, still just one third of staff availed of the vaccine in 2016-2017.

Uptake varied substantially according to staff category. While 53% of medical and dental staff availed of the vaccine, just 27% of nursing staff did so.

Uptake also varied substantially across the hospitals. Although 14 hospitals exceeded 40% uptake, nine hospitals failed to achieve even 20% uptake. Uptake also varied substantially by hospital group with just three groups achieving the 40% target.

The report found that between 2007 and 2016, there was a 40% reduction in the age-sex standardised in-hospital mortality rates within 30 days of admission for Acute Myocardial Infarction (from 9.3 deaths per 100 cases admitted in 2007 to 5.6 deaths per 100 cases admitted in 2016).

Although the national uptake target of 95% for MMR for children at 24 months of age was not achieved, the national immunisation rate increased over the ten year period, from 87% in 2007 to 92% in 2016. It says the reasons for the variation seen between areas require further investigation.

The national immunisation rate for the third dose of MenC vaccine decreased over the ten year period, from 91% in 2007 to 87% in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016 the third dose of MenC vaccine uptake rate decreased by 1% from 88% to 87%. This requires ongoing review to ensure vaccine confidence was maintained.

In July 2008, the childhood immunisation schedule was changed resulting in a change of timing of MenC vaccine from 2, 4, 6 months to 4, 6, 13 months. This meant an additional visit to the GP at 13 months of age. This resulted in a large decline in reported uptake of the third dose of MenC from 2010.

The report says research showed that most parents did not know their children were incompletely vaccinated and were unaware that their children required an additional dose of vaccine at 13 months of age.

The trend in completed HPV immunisation rates in girls in first year of second level schools and their age equivalents for the academic years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 showed that uptake declined substantially over these two years, from 87% in 2014-2015 to just 72% in 2015- 2016.

The report noted that public views about some media coverage about this vaccine might have adversely impacted uptake levels in recent years. “The World Health Organization and every national expert and regulatory body in the world have refuted these allegations and stated that the HPV vaccine is safe and that it is not associated with an increased risk of any of the alleged side effects.”

Over the past ten years, the uptake of breast screening by those eligible has remained above the target of 70%. Between 2008 and 2013 there was a decline in uptake. The most recent (2015) data revealed that the uptake was 75%, a small decrease compared with 2014 (77%).

The coverage of CervicalCheck in the 2010 – 2015 period was 79%.

It said cancer screening and treatment services compared favourably against other OECD countries and rates of MRSA fell by 66% since 2006.”

Variation in hospitalisation rates between individual hospitals for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and asthma remained and hospitalisation rates for patients with COPD remained very high.

The report found that during the last ten years hospitalisation rates for diabetes and heart failure decreased substantially, while deaths following ischaemic stroke and heart attack decreased by 28% and 40% respectively,

The report is available on the Department of Health website.