Every year 8,000 Canadians die of influenza and its complications(1), and as many as one in six unvaccinated healthcare workers get influenza(2). In 2012, St. Joes was the 4th worst performing hospital in the Toronto Central LHIN for staff and physician influenza vaccination rates. Only 40% of our organization made the choice to get the flu shot while other hospitals within our LHIN achieved an average of 50%. Feedback collected from a staff and physician survey told us, of those who didnt get their flu shot, it boiled down to a personal choice and they were misinformed by myths about the flu shot not being effective protection. The Ontarios Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recommends that health care workers protect themselves by getting the flu shot every year, however, it is not a mandated practice. Research shows healthcare workers appear to be at higher risk of influenza infection than other healthy adult, with annual rates of infection in unvaccinated healthcare workers ranging from 8-26% per year(3).
Transmission of influenza in hospitals has been shown to occur from staff to other staff, patients to staff and staff to patients(4)(5)(6). Nudge marketing(8) opportunities were used with peer-to-peer storytelling to show the positive personal stories behind why 40% of our organization made the choice to get the flu shot. We also used researched based facts and literature to reach our stakeholders through a number of education opportunities about why the flu shot works and why its so important for healthcare workers to get vaccinated because of transmission rates to vulnerable patient population we care for.