OBJECTIVE. Infants who are younger than 6 months and have influenza demonstrate significant morbidity and mortality. Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine is indicated for parents and household contacts of these infants; however, the influenza vaccination rate in this population is estimated at 30%. The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine administration to parents in a tertiary-care, level III NICU and measure the effect of this program on vaccination rates among parents of this high-risk population.
METHODS. For a 4-month period during influenza season, all parents of admitted patients were informed of the risks and benefits of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine by placing an information letter at their infant's bedside. All staff were educated about the dangers of influenza and instructed to reinforce the need to obtain vaccination. Parents were screened, provided medical consent, and, when eligible, were immunized at their infant's bedside.
RESULTS. During the study period, 158 children (273 parents) were admitted to the NICU with gestational ages ranging from 24 to 41 weeks; 220 parents (130 infants) were offered the vaccine, and 40 parents received the vaccine from their obstetrician. Overall vaccination rate was 95% (209 parents). A total of 23% of the parent population had never received trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine, despite having previous indications for immunization (smoking, asthma, or other children younger than 23 months, the indicated age for parental vaccination at the time of this study); 75% of the population received trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine for the first time. The 28 infants whose parents were not offered vaccine spent <72 hours in the NICU.
CONCLUSIONS. Administration of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine in the NICU is an effective means of increasing vaccination rates in parents of this population. In addition, the improved access and convenience allow for an increase in first-time vaccination of parents who were previously eligible to receive trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine but were never immunized.