When the H1N1 flu campaign kicked off in late October, no one predicted the extraordinary interest it would garner, such as the mile-long lineups of employees wanting to get immunized. To date, Occupational Health and Safety has vaccinated more than 11,000 employees against H1N1—10,000 of whom received the shot in the first three weeks of the campaign. Jane Sloggett, Director, and Karon Kersey, Manager, discuss how they managed this record-breaking campaign:

UHNews: What was the role of Occupational Health in pandemic planning?
Jane Sloggett: We were responsible for the planning and distribution of the vaccine, surveillance and managing of staff who became ill with influenzalike illness, providing employee support programs, such as the flu hotline, and preparing the employee information booklet. We were also asked to take responsibility for rolling out the vaccine to patients. We were very proud that our vaccination-campaign design was used to support patients.

Karon Kersey imageWhat lessons did you learn from the campaign?
Karon Kersey: We learned that we needed to stay ahead of the wave of employees wanting the vaccine by being aware of how many vaccines we were using at various times of the day. It took up to two hours to get the vaccine ready, so we were always trying to figure out how much we've got left, how many more vials we're going to use, when we need to order our next vials, etc.

Another lesson learned was to be vigilant. Because we remained vigilant we knew when we were going to need to launch the hotline and when we could stop testing people for the virus. We kept watch over the sick numbers so that we would know if the kiosks would need to be opened to dispense the antivirals.

JS:We also learned that all the planning and procedural designs we put in place were completely solid and stood us in good stead for managing the complexities of H1N1 in our workplace. Also, because information about the vaccine changed daily, and sometimes was contradictory or confusing, we relied heavily upon Dr. Susy Hota's advice. I also learned that our staff really take their health and safety seriously, as well as that of our patients, and of this I am very proud.

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