Program Overview

The Public Health – Nursing program provides overall immunization coordination and ongoing education to nurses and other members of the health care team in the area of immunization. The Public Health Nurse (PHN) is responsible for developing, recommending and providing expert, consultation, and clinical assistance to those implementing public health nursing policies and programs.

In consultation with the Partners, the PHN focuses on the following areas: Immunization (preschool, school and influenza), Maternal and Child Health (MCH), Panorama, and Influenza. PHN also provides certification in immunization for specialty nursing practices as well as other continuing nursing education. Reviews of nursing policy and procedures are developed in consultation with internal and external stakeholders. In addition, the PHN and Nursing Program Advisor work together on developments in specialty practices for Community Health Nurses, Home Care Nurses and Primary Care Nurses.

Figure 1: Average childhood immunization coverage rates for 1-year, 2-year, and 7-year old cohort, NITHA, 2012-2016

Figure 2: Vaccine-specific immunization coverage rates for 1-year old cohort, NITHA, 2016



In the area of immunization, the Childhood Immunization Coverage Report (CICR) detailed an overview of immunization rates of vaccine preventable diseases for one, two and seven year old children. Overall, there was a decrease in the overall coverage rates in each population cohort. The one-year-old coverage rate decreased from 91% in 2015 to 89% in 2016. For the two-year-old coverage, there was a 5% drop in the vaccine coverage rates from 89 in 2015 to 84% in 2016. For the seven-year-old coverage rate, there was a slight decrease from 95% in 2015 to 93% in 2016. (See Figure 1.) For vaccine specific coverage rates, please see Figures 2-4.

In accordance with the past five-year trends, immunization coverage varied significantly in Partner communities. Overall, coverage remained at over the targeted rate of 90% for both the one-and seven-year-old cohort. Compared to the provincial immunization rates, NITHA’s immunization coverage rates were the highest across all age groups.

Over the past year, consultation was provided to the Community Health Nurses on immunization scheduling, immunization of special populations, and school programming. Monitoring and reporting of Adverse Events Following Immunization were completed. A Vaccine Incident/Error Reporting Form was developed in consultation with the Nurse Managers to identify common errors and enhance best practices.

Procurement of the vaccine supply for NITHA’s 33 communities continued to adhere to the Cold Chain guidelines. Over the past fiscal year, a total of $541,145 worth of vaccines were disseminated from NITHA to its Partners. It was another successful year as there was minimal vaccine wastage reported at the distribution site.

In addition, an abstract poster was presented on behalf of NITHA at the 2016 National Immunization Conference’s Exploring Knowledge and Attitudes in a Low-Immunization Saskatchewan First Nation Community. It was well received by physicians, nurses and other health professionals.

As part of its promotional efforts targeting one year olds, infant onesies were approved, ordered and distributed to the communities. In addition, plaques of recognition were presented at the NITHA Annual General Meeting to 20 communities who had achieved an immunization coverage rate of 90% or more.


In February 2015, Saskatchewan Health launched Panorama, which is a comprehensive, integrated public health information system designed for public health professionals. It brings professionals together to more effectively manage vaccine inventories, immunizations, investigations, outbreaks and family health. NITHA’s role in Panorama includes trusteeship, training coordination, information dissemination, communications and support.

Presently, 15 communities are using the system: PAGC (6 of 10), LLRIB (6 of 6), MLTC (1 of 9), and AHA (2 of 2). PBCN has opted out at this time. Overall, the system has received positive feedback in its initial usage of the module. PHN continues to provide information on Panorama as more communities become interested in incorporating it into their health programming. Expansion is also continuing under the direction of the NITHA Executive Council as the Province and NITHA leadership seek legal consultation in regards to the logistics of the system.

Influenza Strategy

As part of the Influenza Strategy, the PHN coordinated the annual teleconferences with the NITHA communities and partners held in the fall of 2016, prior to the 2016-2017 Influenza season. In total, 462 health care workers and 3,757 members of the general public received vaccines. From October to December 2016, weekly reports, including surveillance reports, were submitted to FNIHB-SK and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health.

Continuing Nursing Education

In the area of Continuing Nursing Education, 111 Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses submitted immunization exams to PHN, including PAGC (47), PBCN (25), MLTD (22) and LLRIB (12). The exams were returned within 10 days with written feedback.

NITHA hosted a Nursing Conference in September 2016, with 45 nurses and nursing students and 10 staff in attendance. As part of the event, the PHN provided a presentation on immunizations and the Influenza Strategy.

Figure 3: Vaccine-specific immunization coverage rates for 2-year old cohort, NITHA, 2016

Figure 4: Vaccine-specific immunization coverage rates for 7-year old cohort, NITHA, 2016


Carrie Gardipy
Public Health Nurse