Pulling together a well-trained, large group of staff to vaccinate children in a short amount of time can be challenging. And since you will be administering flu vaccinations at a time when there is a high demand for vaccinators, it is important to start recruitment as early as possible. Here are some of our lessons learned:
- Make sure to recruit vaccinators from diverse agencies or organizations so that if for some reason, one agency can not provide staffing at the last minute, you have a back up. For example, we always contracted with two nurse staffing agencies, one of which was the primary agency and with whom we contracted for the majority of hours and another of which was a back up agency. Your pool may include:
- Contract agencies
- Local health department
- Medical Reserve Corps (through county emergency preparedness office)
- School nurses
- Nursing students
- Nurses from community based organizations
- Community volunteers
- While it’s important to diversify, be mindful of the time it takes to coordinate each group of vaccinators. You may want to start with only a few agencies or organizations and build from there.
- Train all vaccinators together if possible. This not only ensures consistent training but also allows vaccinators to meet one another. We usually held 3-4 trainings within two weeks of the first vaccine day.
- It may be challenging to find nurses with pediatric experience. Providing adequate hands-on or scenario-based training to nurses not accustomed to working with children can help them to feel more comfortable.
- An SLIV program can be a great opportunity for local health departments and schools to refresh nurses’ immunization administration skills, particularly in a mass vaccination scenario.
- In working with a broad pool of vaccinators, it’s important that the program’s lead agency provide consistent clinical support and oversight. We recommend a lead nurse(s) be available at all vaccine days the first week to observe and ensure vaccinators are utilizing correct technique and following protocols. We also suggest pairing experienced nurses with less experienced nurses and scheduling extra nurses the first week to make sure vaccinators are supported.
- If you do use contract agencies, request less nurses who are available for more days a week, versus many nurses who are only available one or two days a week, to provide continuity. We found that after the first week or so, nurses either really liked the program and wanted to be scheduled more days or weren’t as excited and dropped out or scheduled less days. We also found that many nurses returned year to year and could be used to help support newer nurses.
- It can be difficult to plan how many staff you will need to vaccinate at each event. The resource below provides a formula based on our population (K-8, multilingual, many newcomers) and using injectable vaccine only.
When managing many different pools of staff and volunteers to both operate the program, vaccinate participants and support general operations, it is easy to spend a lot of time coordinating schedules. If resources allow it, we highly recommend utilizing a scheduling software. This also provides a convenient way to communicate with staff and volunteers rather than sending emails to different groups or individuals. We tested a variety of software and ultimately settled on a paid subscription to SignUpGenius. This software can be used for many other types of event coordination within a local health department or school district.