Healthcare workers & flu vaccinations: 10 things to know

Increasingly, healthcare organizations are enforcing mandatory flu vaccinations for healthcare workers. Here are 10 things to know.

1. As part of its Healthy People 2020 campaign, a national health promotion initiative, the CDC aims to achieve a 90 percent flu vaccination rate among healthcare personnel by 2020.

2. There is growing evidence that healthcare worker flu vaccinations and patient safety are linked. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2013 concluded that "HCP influenza vaccination can enhance patient safety."1 

3. Early season 2014 to 2015 flu vaccination coverage among healthcare personnel was 64.3 percent, according to the CDC. Early season flu vaccination coverage was highest among pharmacists (86.7 percent), nurse practitioners/physician assistants (85.8 percent), physicians (82.2 percent), nurses (81.4 percent) and other clinical professionals (72 percent).2

4. By work setting, early season flu vaccination coverage in 2014 to 2015 was highest among healthcare personnel working in hospitals — 78.7 percent.2

5. The rate of healthcare professionals receiving the influenza vaccination has been on the rise. In 2013 to 2014, 75.2 percent of healthcare professionals reported receiving an influenza vaccine. In 2012 to 2013, the rate was slightly lower at 72 percent.

6. In 2014, nearly 25 percent of healthcare workers received the flu vaccine because their employers required them to take it. Here are the top three reasons healthcare professionals reported receiving a flu vaccine.

•    "To protect myself from flu." — 43.5 percent
•    "My employer requires me to be vaccinated for flu." — 25.5 percent
•    "To protect patients from getting flu." — 8.5 percent

7. A number of healthcare professionals decided not to get vaccinated against the flu. Here are the top three reasons HCPs did not get vaccinated.

•    "I might get sick from the vaccine." — 20.1 percent
•    "I don't think that flu vaccines work." — 16.3 percent
•    "I don't need it." — 16.0 percent

8. There was a correlation between healthcare worker flu vaccinations and rates of flu in the communities they serve. For every 15 healthcare providers who receive the flu vaccine, there is one fewer case of the flu in the community, according to a study of California public health data from 2009 to 2012. A researcher analyzed data to determine the relationship between giving healthcare workers the flu vaccine and the rate of influenza-like illnesses in the area.

9. Several healthcare organizations have made flu vaccinations for their employees mandatory. For example, in September 2014, University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson made it mandatory for its workers to get a flu shot. Under UMMC's new mandatory flu shot policy, employees could receive shots for free.

10. In other instances, healthcare workers are resisting their employers' attempts to make flu vaccinations mandatory. The union representing nurses at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the hospital for a policy that would require nurses to receive flu shots to retain their jobs.

References:

1Clinical Infectious Diseases
http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/09/17/cid.cit580.short
2CDC website
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/healthcareworkers.htm

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