April 02, 2010 | | Comments 0
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New CDC numbers indicate mandatory flu shot policies noticeably increase vaccination rates among employees

The CDC posted an interesting report yesterday, based on a Web survey the agency conducted, that you should read if you’re at all involved with seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccination efforts.

Here are the highlights:

  • As of mid-January, the estimated vaccination rate among healthcare workers was 37.1% for H1N1 and 61.9% for seasonal flu (that seasonal flu rate hovers around 40% to 50% usually, so that’s quite an improvement in one year)
  • If a healthcare facility required an H1N1 vaccination for workers, such an initiative was associated with an eight-fold increased likelihood that employees would actually obtain the vaccine compared to facilities that did not recommend or require H1N1 innoculations (only 8.4% of facilities required H1N1 shots, however)
  • If a facility required a seasonal flu vaccination, it was associated with an three-fold increased likelihood that employees would actually obtain the vaccine compared to facilities that did not recommend or require seasonal flu shots (11.1% of facilities required season flu shots)
  • Among various healthcare settings, seasonal vaccination coverage was highest (71.7%) in hospitals and among those who work in intensive care, burn, or obstetric units, or around seriously ill patients (70.2%)

“Healthcare administrators should consider influenza vaccination coverage among employees an important measure of patient safety and make appropriate efforts to increase coverage in future seasons,” the CDC says in the report.

Regardless of whether you agree with mandatory flu vaccines, the numbers lend support to the idea that hospitals will increase their vaccination rates if they require that employees get flu shots. It seems fear of job loss, particularly in a lousy economy, speaks louder than patient safety concerns.

y mid-January, estim vaccination rate among healthcare workers was 37.1% for H1N1 and 61.9% for seasonal flu y mid-January, estim vaccination rate among healthcare workers was 37.1% for H1N1 and 61.9% for seasonal flu

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Scott Wallask About the Author: Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for HCPro's Hospital Safety Center (www.hospitalsafetycenter.com) and the award-winning newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. He has written about healthcare for HCPro since 1998, with a focus on occupational and building safety, emergency management, fire protection, and infection control. Prior to joining HCPro, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. He holds a BA in print journalism, magna cum laude, from Northeastern University in Boston. Contact Scott at swallask@hcpro.com.

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