More healthcare personnel (HCP) are getting their flu shots, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, but there are still large gaps in immunization. During the 2014-2015 flu season, 77% of HCPs were vaccinated against the flu, a 14% increase from the previous season. The highest rates of immunization—at 90.4%–was with HCPs working in hospitals.
While the increase is a positive step, it was also revealed that only 75% of nonclinical personnel had received the vaccine, including food service workers, laundry workers, janitors, housekeeping staff, and maintenance staff. The numbers were even lower for aides and assistants, with only 64% immunized.
The lowest rates for immunization was amongst HCP at long-term care (LTC) facilities, with only 64% of the staff vaccinated against the flu. This is especially troubling given that the elderly living in LTC facilities are more susceptible to serious flu complications. Furthermore, the effectiveness of flu vaccines amongst the elderly is lower than in the rest of the population. One study found that during an LTC flu outbreak, one in four staff members and one in three residents contract the flu.
The CDC calls for all nurses and staff to be vaccinated at the start of the flu season. When promoting flu vaccines, nurse managers can also encourage their staff to get up to date on other adult vaccines. The CDC recommends that anyone working in a healthcare facility receive:
- Hepatitis B
- MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella)
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
- Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
The CDC offers promotional material and info on how to promote flu vaccines amongst healthcare workers.