Aims Influenza virus has significant impact on the morbidity of paediatric oncology patients and poses great burden on admission rates and paediatric bed pressures in an NHS trust. The Department of Health advises that all paediatric oncology patients should receive the influenza vaccine each year. This study aims to analyse adherence with the guidelines and elucidate the proposed relationship that lack of appropriate influenza vaccination leads to increased rates of hospital admissions (and hence cost to the healthcare trust). This study proposes that implementation of a formal flu vaccination clinic for paediatric oncology patients would ensure greater vaccination rates, thus reducing hospital admissions and costs incurred and hence flu clinics would be a more cost effective method of managing prevention of influenza in these patients.
Methods Over the flu season 2012–2013, 63 paediatric oncology patients were currently on or within 6 months of chemotherapy treatment. A telephone consultation with patients’ parents was conducted to ask if their child had received the appropriate flu vaccination schedule that season. Each patient’s notes were then analysed for if; an admission had occurred; viral swab sent; and swab results.
Results 46 of 63 patients were included. 84.8% (39 of 46) of patients were admitted in the flu season 2012–2013. 25.7% of viral swabs taken from admissions were influenza positive. Of these laboratory confirmed cases of influenza only 11.1% (1 of 9) had received the full appropriate vaccination schedule.
Conclusion This study shows that the influenza virus in the flu season 2012–13 accounted for up to one quarter of hospital admissions. Since a minority of these hospital admissions appear to have been appropriately vaccinated, our proposal is that by ensuring greater adherence with the Department of Health Guidelines to vaccination, hospital admission rates and the costs incurred may be significantly reduced. To increase adherence with Department of Health guidelines, we propose that commencement of a flu vaccination clinic for paediatric oncology patients may prove more cost effective. Data to support this hypothesis is being collected and analysed during flu season 2013–14.