HUS staff have been eager to get COVID vaccinations. A joint vaccination booking service for HUS and member municipalities, Koronarokotusaika.fi, was launched at the beginning of January. Vaccinations have been an important means for reducing the risk of serious COVID.
During the year under review, HUS Pharmacy delivered nearly 3 million doses of vaccine to Uusimaa and Kymsote. The majority of these were Comirnaty vaccine from BioNTech–Pfizer (about 2.7 million doses).
HUS staff has high vaccination coverage
Coronavirus vaccinations in Finland began on December 27, 2020 with the administering of a vaccine to six HUS employees. Staff vaccination coordination is handled by a working group that met once or twice a week throughout the year to organize vaccinations, design related communications, make necessary updates to the booking service and monitor vaccination progress.
Our staff vaccinations progressed in stages during 2021, in accordance with national guidelines. The first to be vaccinated were principally those caring for actual and suspected coronavirus patients and staff involved in sampling and analysis for COVID tests. We began the third round of vaccinations for staff in September, before the relevant decree entered into force, so that we could use up a batch of vaccines whose expiry date was soon approaching.
At the end of the year, more than 95% of our staff had had their first dose of COVID vaccine, 90% had had two doses, and 47% had had three doses.
At the end of the year, vaccination coverage among physicians was more than 95% for first and second doses and 68% for third doses.
Among nurses, coverage was more than 95% for first and second doses and 54% for third doses.
The actual coverage figures may be higher, because some of our employees have had their COVID vaccinations in our member municipalities, and not all have informed us of being vaccinated. Most of our staff vaccinations were given at vaccination clinics of HUS Occupational Health Services, but booster shots were also given in patient units and at vaccination points set up in various departments and hospital areas.
Booking system for self-service and professionals
Local authorities are responsible for implementing the national vaccination program, administering vaccinations to their residents and their social welfare and health care personnel. Weekly meetings were held by our epidemiology unit to organize COVID vaccinations for the general public, together with local authorities in Uusimaa, along with developing a vaccination booking application. The self-service application produced by HUS as a shared platform for booking vaccinations was hugely helpful.
By the end of the year, the application had been used by the general public to book 1,506,358 COVID vaccination appointments and by professionals to book 1,167,393 COVID vaccination appointments for Uusimaa residents. The application was updated on a weekly basis according to changing needs, guidelines, vaccination groups and availability of vaccines.
Campaigns and cooperation
In the spring, we worked with local authorities in Uusimaa, with the major private care operators and with Tehy and SuPer to hold COVID vaccine briefings for care facility staff in order to boost vaccination coverage.
In July, we worked with the municipalities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area to deliver a campaign on COVID vaccinations targeted at adolescents and young adults. The campaign was run in the form of videos released on social media and involving social media influencers with whom young people are familiar. The channels used were Snapchat, Jodel, Instagram and Facebook.
At the end of the year, we campaigned with local authorities to gain more staff to administer vaccinations at municipal vaccination points.
Also at the end of the year, we signed an agreement on vaccination cooperation with HUS, local authorities and several private occupational health care service providers. With this, private occupational health care service providers are now able to administer vaccinations to employees of their client companies. We also produced guidelines and teaching material on COVID vaccinations for professionals eligible to administer vaccinations in all organizations providing vaccinations in the HUS area.