On October 18 we conducted our fourth annual influenza vaccination clinic here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. By offering the clinic here, during work hours, and for free, we hope to reduce as many barriers to vaccination as possible, such as preventing the trip to the doctor or the pharmacy and overcoming inertia. Of course, we are also hoping to keep staffers, their families and friends, and building visitors healthy, too!
We partnered with a service available from our health insurance provider to give the quadrivalent influenza vaccine on site. As an incentive, we gave a $10 Trader Joe’s gift card to anyone who got the vaccine.
The first year I began tracking uptake of influenza vaccine here (2012) only 43% of full-time staff took the vaccine. In 2013, I conducted a brief influenza vaccination awareness campaign and about 70% staffers took the vaccine. In 2014, after offering the vaccine here in the building, we were up to about 85% vaccinated full -and part-time staffers, including those who’d been vaccinated elsewhere. The uptake was similar in 2015 and 2016. This year, 41 people got the vaccine here at the College – more than ever before – and an additional 5 people had received the vaccine elsewhere before the clinic. Of our 34 full-time staff, 88% (30 individuals) have been vaccinated for influenza this year—a huge increase from 2012.
Of course, we are all hoping that the flu vaccine will provide good protection this year against the circulating influenza strains. Its effectiveness, however, can vary widely from season to season, depending on the match between vaccine influenza strains and circulating influenza strains, as well as other factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated the overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness (VE)* for influenza seasons 2004-05 through 2016-17, and VE ranged from a low of 10% (2004-05) to a high of 60% (2010-11).
We shot a video of the clinic and asked people why they choose to get vaccinated. Thanks to Jonah Stern, our videographer, and all the staff people who contributed. Please take a look!
*VE is a point estimate that represents the reduction in risk provided by the flu vaccine. In this case, the CDC compares the odds of vaccination among outpatients with acute respiratory illness and laboratory-confirmed influenza infection to the odds of vaccination among outpatients with acute respiratory illness who test negative for influenza infection. So, a VE of 60% means that the flu vaccine reduces a person’s risk of the outcome (outpatient visit due to lab-confirmed influenza) by 60%.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal Vaccine Effectiveness, 2005-17. Accessed 30 October 2017.
Houser K, Subbarao K. Influenza vaccines: Challenges and solutions. Cell Host Microbe. 17(3):295-300. Accessed 30 October 2017.