Reports From the Field

Improving Inpatient COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Among Adult Patients at a Tertiary Academic Medical Center



From the Department of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.


Objective: Inpatient vaccination initiatives are well described in the literature. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals began administering COVID-19 vaccines to hospitalized patients. Although vaccination rates increased, there remained many unvaccinated patients despite community efforts. This quality improvement project aimed to increase the COVID-19 vaccination rates of hospitalized patients on the medicine service at the George Washington University Hospital (GWUH).

Methods: From November 2021 through February 2022, we conducted a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle with 3 phases. Initial steps included gathering baseline data from the electronic health record and consulting stakeholders. The first 2 phases focused on educating housestaff on the availability, ordering process, and administration of the Pfizer vaccine. The third phase consisted of developing educational pamphlets for patients to be included in their admission packets.

Results: The baseline mean COVID-19 vaccination rate (August to October 2021) of eligible patients on the medicine service was 10.7%. In the months after we implemented the PDSA cycle (November 2021 to February 2022), the mean vaccination rate increased to 15.4%.

Conclusion: This quality improvement project implemented measures to increase administration of the Pfizer vaccine to eligible patients admitted to the medicine service at GWUH. The mean vaccination rate increased from 10.7% in the 3 months prior to implementation to 15.4% during the 4 months post implementation. Other measures to consider in the future include increasing the availability of other COVID-19 vaccines at our hospital and incorporating the vaccine into the admission order set to help facilitate vaccination early in the hospital course.

Keywords: housestaff, quality improvement, PDSA, COVID-19, BNT162b2 vaccine, patient education

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, case rates in the United States have fluctuated considerably, corresponding to epidemic waves. In 2021, US daily cases of COVID-19 peaked at nearly 300,000 in early January and reached a nadir of 8000 cases in mid-June.1 In September 2021, new cases had increased to 200,000 per day due to the prevalence of the Delta variant.1 Particularly with the emergence of new variants of SARS-CoV-2, vaccination efforts to limit the spread of infection and severity of illness are critical. Data have shown that 2 doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech) were largely protective against severe infection for approximately 6 months.2,3 When we began this quality improvement (QI) project in September 2021, only 179 million Americans had been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is just over half of the US population.4 An electronic survey conducted in the United States with more than 5 million responses found that, of those who were hesitant about receiving the vaccine, 49% reported a fear of adverse effects and 48% reported a lack of trust in the vaccine.5

This QI project sought to target unvaccinated individuals admitted to the internal medicine inpatient service. Vaccinating hospitalized patients is especially important since they are sicker than the general population and at higher risk of having poor outcomes from COVID-19. Inpatient vaccine initiatives, such as administering influenza vaccine prior to discharge, have been successfully implemented in the past.6 One large COVID-19 vaccination program featured an admission order set to increase the rates of vaccination among hospitalized patients.7 Our QI project piloted a multidisciplinary approach involving the nursing staff, pharmacy, information technology (IT) department, and internal medicine housestaff to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among hospitalized patients on the medical service. This project aimed to increase inpatient vaccination rates through interventions targeting both primary providers as well as the patients themselves.


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