Flu season underway with new helpful prompts, on-unit vaccine supply

nursing flu shot supply

With the start of influenza season, University of Chicago Medicine nurses are again leading the charge to ensure all eligible inpatients are protected against the virus. Prompted by a 2012 change in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, all patients who are 6 months and older must be screened for a flu vaccination upon admission.

This year, UChicago Medicine is tapping the power of its information systems more than ever to aid nurses in this important effort. On Sept. 17, the flu season kicked off on inpatient units with new automated prompts and reminders in Epic that are designed to further streamline the vaccination assessment, administration and documentation process.

To further simplify the flu vaccination workflow, a small supply of vaccine is now stocked in designated Omnicells on each unit. Comer nurses are still able to call or send a communication to the pharmacy department when they’re ready to administer.

“Inpatient influenza vaccinations have been a part of our nursing protocol for several years, so our nurses are already very efficient and effective at identifying and addressing flu shot needs,” said Judy Doty, MSN, RN, manager of nursing quality. “But, we’ve found that even little tweaks in the course of a nurse’s workflow can be significant. Thanks to leadership support, vaccinations are an important metric on the clinical effectiveness scorecard, so we want to continue to make every effort to ensure patients don’t fall through the cracks.”

Fine tuning evidence-based flu vaccination procedures is an annual interdisciplinary effort. A team including staff nurses, nurse informatics, quality managers, infectious diseases physicians and pharmacists convened in mid-July to review any changes to CDC guidelines. They also brainstormed around any anticipated challenges and dissected the existing protocol to identify opportunities for improvements.

“I appreciate the contributions of each member of the Influenza Immunization Screening Workgroup,” said Doty. “It’s another great example of interdisciplinary collaboration at its best.”

For information on how to protect yourself from influenza this season, see details on the University of Chicago Medicine’s 2014 Flu Vaccination Program by clicking here.

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