We are in the midst of the largest mass vaccination program ever implemented in the United States. As a result of Operation Warp Speed, the federal government is distributing 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to states, with thousands of pharmacists, nurses, technicians, and other health care professionals hired locally to administer the vaccine. As those vaccines are distributed, they hit a system of health departments at the state level, each with its own rules, requirements, and infrastructure.
But are we doing enough to protect those on the front lines of this unprecedented event? Have we thought of everything to keep immunizers safe?
In our current Covid-era, when we think about PPE we’re primarily thinking about protection against the airborne transmission of the coronavirus. But let’s make sure we’re looking at the whole picture. During non-Covid times, it is estimated that HCPs experience up to 800,000 potentially infectious exposures to blood through needlesticks and splashes.1,2 This number will, undoubtedly, increase due to the high numbers of vaccinations administered quickly and in a wide range of traditional and nontraditional settings.
Exposure to blood can spread infectious bloodborne pathogens, most notably hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Of these three, only hepatitis B is vaccine preventable, and the CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccination for all health care providers. However, time is of the essence. As hospitals and pharmacies continue to staff up, it is imperative to ensure immunizers and support staff are quickly protected. Multiple hepatitis B vaccine options are available, and recent innovations have made it possible to provide protection against hepatitis B in as quickly as one month. Given the current risks on the front lines, we need to protect these workers with everything we can, right now, as quickly as possible.
In these unimaginable times, it makes sense to utilize every option available to keep our health care workforce safe and healthy. For more information about implementing an effective hepatitis B protection program, please reach out to us. By working together, we can help protect our protectors against hepatitis B.
1 American Nurses Association. American Nurses Association’s Needle Stick Prevention Guide. Washington, DC: American Nurses Association; 2002. http://www.who.int/occupational_health/activities/2needguid.pdf. Accessed July 18, 2018.
2 Updated U.S. Public Health Service guidelines for the management of occupational exposures to HIV and recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2005;54(RR-9):1-17.