Ida-Viru hospital offers rewards to increase staff flu vaccine uptake

Ida-Viru Central Hospital.
Ida-Viru Central Hospital. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Ida-Viru Central Hospital is facing challenges this flu season, as only a third of its staff members have been vaccinated against influenza. The hospital is trying to improve the situation by offering bonuses to staff, who take up the vaccine.

Ida-Viru Central Hospital, which employs more than 1,200 people, is struggling both to find staff and to convince its existing employees to take the flu vaccine.

"Our own hospital staff have not been very active in this, but nevertheless 33 percent of our staff have been freshly vaccinated against influenza", said Toomas Kariis, chief physician at Ida-Viru Central Hospital.

"Yes, the percentage could be higher, but we know that (whether or not to get the) vaccination is a person's own choice. For many, it may also be the case that the calendar has moved so fast that they didn't get around to doing it in December. Now January is already here, so they are just getting it done," he said.

"There are also some people who have already caught it and so they have delayed getting the vaccination. So, there are different reasons," Kariis explained.

To encourage more of the hospital's staff to get the vaccination, a reward scheme has now been initiated.

"Low vaccination rates are certainly a problem for us and we are keeping an eye on it. As with Covid, we consider it important to vaccinate against influenza. We have also developed our own reward systems for this. So, we are actually recognizing our health care professionals, who have participated in the vaccination program," Kariis said.

Kariis was unable to provide any clear reasons why vaccination rates at the hospital are so low, though he suggested that fears regarding possible negative side effects may play a role.

"Those who think ahead and care more about their health take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated. Yes, there have been some side effects, or problems with the medication, but in the bigger picture, when it comes to vaccination there are far more winners than losers," he said.

The Ida-Viru County Central Hospital serves a population of 150,000 people.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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