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Objectives: Influenza vaccination is encouraged for all healthcare workers (HCWs) to reduce the risk of acquiring the infection and onward transmission to colleagues and patients during the influenza season. Thus, vaccination was introduced at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in 2007 and has been offered to all HCWs at no cost. The HCW influenza vaccination program is conducted annually in October and biannually during years with vaccine mismatch. However, influenza vaccine uptake remained low among HCWs. We sought to determine the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on influenza vaccine uptake among HCWs. Methods: At SGH, 2 methods of vaccine delivery are offered: centralized (1-month drop-in system during office hours) and decentralized (administered by vaccination teams in offices or ward staff in inpatient locations). In the 4-year study period between 2018 and 2021, 6 influenza vaccination exercise campaigns were conducted during 8 influenza seasons. During each exercise, ~9,000 HCWs were eligible for vaccination. Results: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine uptake in the Southern Hemisphere was 77.6% (6,964 of 8,977) in 2018 and 84.2% (7,296 of 8,670) in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, vaccine uptake in the Southern Hemisphere increased by 10% to 94.1% (8,361 of 8,889). In the Northern Hemisphere, vaccine uptake was 79.2% (7,114 of 8,977) in 2018, and this increased by 17.9% to 97.1% (8,926 of 9,194) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. During the 2021 Southern Hemisphere influenza season, no vaccination program was conducted because the risk of influenza was considered low due to the closure of international borders and the implementation of public health measures. In addition, priority was given to COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Conclusions: Increased uptake of the influenza vaccination was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety created by the respiratory disease pandemic and debate surrounding vaccines likely contributed to increased awareness and uptake in influenza vaccine among HCWs.
Objectives:Streptococcus mitis is a gram-positive coccus and is a common commensal found in the throat, nasopharynx, and mouth. In an immunocompromised host, S. mitis opportunistically multiplies and can translocate to other sites. At baseline, the prevalence of S. mitis remained stable among hematological patients, averaging ~1 case monthly. However, in August–September 2020, 5 S. mitis cases were documented in a hematology ward and included overlapping inpatient stays. In this descriptive cluster report, we sought to identify the reasons for the increased prevalence of S. mitis in our institution. Methods: A literature review was undertaken to gain a better understanding of the bacteriology of S. mitis. Subsequently, geographical mapping was performed to identify epidemiological links. Further culture and sensitivity testing was requested. Hand hygiene compliance, environmental audit, and handling of central lines within the ward were examined for any lapses in practice. Results: Based on geographical mapping, no epidemiological linkages were established between patients; they were admitted to different rooms and did not share any equipment. Moreover, based on the antibiogram, different bacteria sensitivities were recorded across the isolates from these patients. A hand hygiene and environmental audit result showed 100% compliance. Nurses performed care of central lines in accordance with guidelines. However, an investigation of changes in practice revealed that the use of a toothbrush had only recently been permitted as part of streamlining oral care for hematology patients. Because toothbrushes were not provided by the hospital, patients were utilizing their personal toothbrushes with no direct supervision of their oral care regimen. Conclusions: The prevalence of S. mitis in hematological patients was likely due to the neutropenic condition of patients. This report provides valuable information supporting the optimization of oral hygiene in immunocompromised patients while minimizing the risk of opportunistic infections.
Background: Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is the largest acute tertiary-care hospital in Singapore. Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at risk of acquiring COVID-19 in both the community and workplaces. SGH has a robust exposure management process including prompt contact tracing, immediate ring fencing, lock down of affected cubicles or single room isolation for patient contacts, and home isolation orders for staff contacts of COVID-19 cases during the containment phase of the pandemic. Contacts were also placed on enhanced surveillance with PCR testing on days 1 and 4 as well as daily antigen rapid tests (ARTs) for 10 days after exposure. Here, we describe the characteristic of HCWs with COVID-19 during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This retrospective observational study included all SGH HCWs who acquired COVID-19 during the third wave (ie, the 18-week period from September 1 to December 31, 2021) of the COVID-19 pandemic. Univariate analysis was used to compare characteristics of work-associated infection (WAI) and community-acquired infection (CAI) among HCWs. Results: Among a workforce of >10,000 at SGH, 335 HCWs acquired COVID-19 during study period. CAI (exposure to known clusters or household contact) accounted for 111 HCW infections (33.1%). Also, 48 HCWs (14.3%) had a WAI (ie, acquired at their work places where there was no patient contact). Among WAsI, only 5 HCWs had hospital-acquired infection (confirmed by phylogenetic analysis). The sources of exposure for the remaining 176 HCWs were unknown. Weekly incidence of COVID-19 among HCWs was comparable to the epidemiology curve of all cases in Singapore (Fig. 1 and 2). The mean age of HCWs with COVID-19 was 39.6 years, and most were women. At the time of positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, 223 HCWs were symptomatic, and 67 (20.0%) of them had comorbidities. Only 16 HCWs (4.8%) required hospitalization, and all recovered fully with no mortality (Table 1). Being female was associated with community COVID-19 acquisition (OR, 4.6, P Conclusions: During the thrid wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher percentage of HCWs at SGH acquired the infection from the community than from the workplace. Safe management measures, such as universal masking, social distancing, and robust exposure management processes including prompt contact tracing and environmental disinfection, can reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the hospital work environment.
Sporadic clusters of healthcare-associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurred despite intense rostered routine surveillance and a highly vaccinated healthcare worker (HCW) population, during a community surge of the severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) B.1.617.2 δ (delta) variant. Genomic analysis facilitated timely cluster detection and uncovered additional linkages via HCWs moving between clinical areas and among HCWs sharing a common lunch area, enabling early intervention.
To describe OXA-48–like carbapenem-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) outbreaks at Singapore General Hospital between 2018 and 2020 and to determine the risk associated with OXA-48 carriage in the 2020 outbreak.
Outbreak report and case–control study.
Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is a tertiary-care academic medical center in Singapore with 1,750 beds.
Active surveillance for CPE is conducted for selected high-risk patient cohorts through molecular testing on rectal swabs or stool samples. Patients with CPE are isolated or placed in cohorts under contact precautions. During outbreak investigations, rectal swabs are repeated for culture. For the 2020 outbreak, a retrospective case–control study was conducted in which controls were inpatients who tested negative for OXA-48 and were selected at a 1:3 case-to-control ratio.
Hospital wide, the median number of patients with healthcare-associated OXA-48 was 2 per month. In the 3-year period between 2018 and 2020, 3 OXA-48 outbreaks were investigated and managed, involving 4 patients with Klebsiella pneumoniae in 2018, 55 patients with K. pneumoniae or Escherichia coli in 2019, and 49 patients with multispecies Enterobacterales in 2020. During the 2020 outbreak, independent risk factors for OXA-48 carriage on multivariate analysis (49 patients and 147 controls) were diarrhea within the preceding 2 weeks (OR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.1–10.7; P = .039), contact with an OXA-48–carrying patient (OR, 8.7; 95% CI, 1.9–39.3; P = .005), and exposure to carbapenems (OR, 17.2; 95% CI, 2.2–136; P = .007) or penicillin (OR, 16.6; 95% CI, 3.8–71.0; P < .001).
Multispecies OXA-48 outbreaks in our institution are likely related to a favorable ecological condition and selective pressure exerted by antimicrobial use. The integration of molecular surveillance epidemiology of the healthcare environment is important in understanding the risk of healthcare–associated infection to patients.
Staff surveillance is crucial during the containment phase of a pandemic to help reduce potential healthcare-associated transmission and sustain good staff morale. During an outbreak of SARS-COV-2 with community transmission, our institution used an integrated strategy for early detection and containment of COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers (HCWs).
Our strategy comprised 3 key components: (1) enforcing reporting of HCWs with acute respiratory illness (ARI) to our institution’s staff clinic for monitoring; (2) conducting ongoing syndromic surveillance to obtain early warning of potential clusters of COVID-19; and (3) outbreak investigation and management.
Over a 16-week surveillance period, we detected 14 cases of COVID-19 among HCWs with ARI symptoms. Two of the cases were linked epidemiologically and thus constituted a COVID-19 cluster with intrahospital HCW–HCW transmission; we also detected 1 family cluster and 2 clusters among HCWs who shared accommodation. No transmission to HCWs or patients was detected after containment measures were instituted. Early detection minimized the number of HCWs requiring quarantine, hence preserving continuity of service during an ongoing pandemic.
An integrated surveillance strategy, outbreak management, and encouraging individual responsibility were successful in early detection of clusters of COVID-19 among HCWs. With ongoing local transmission, vigilance must be maintained for intrahospital spread in nonclinical areas where social mingling of HCWs occurs. Because most individuals with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, addressing presenteeism is crucial to minimize potential staff and patient exposure.
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