Statistics from the triennial 2010-2013, Mater Dei Hospital Activity Analyses suggest that pressure on bed occupancy is at its greatest during the months from December to March. For the “top five” medical causes for hospitalization, admission numbers increase from an average 305 admissions per month to 399 admissions per month during the peak winter period. This time of the year coincides with the annual influenza season.
Influenza vaccination of high risk population groups has been reported to reduce hospitalization by 32% to 45%. The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union (E.U.) have recommended that, by 2010 and 2014 respectively, 75% of high risk groups should be immunized against influenza every year.
Vaccination of the elderly population in Malta is currently 40%. Only 70,000 individuals are vaccinated in the Maltese Islands giving a overall population vaccination rate of approximately 16%. In addition, this shortfall in vaccination uptake has in the past resulted in a perennial wastage of more than 8,000 vaccinations per year.
In order to address these lacunae, an influenza vaccination initiative was spearheaded by Mater Dei Hospital’s Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Team (PaSQIT), focusing on high risk patients attending the hospital environs for outpatient or other appointments. The vaccination station was sited in a strategic position close to the Outpatients’ Department so as to increase vaccination uptake. The total number of vaccinations given through this initiative exceeded 7,500.
Yves Muscat Baron
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