More than 9 of 10 hospital workers (92%) reported receiving the flu vaccine during the 2017-2018 season, according to a September 28, 2018, survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate was lower in ambulatory and long-term care settings (where 75% and 67% of workers received vaccinations, respectively). The results come from an online survey of 2,265 U.S. healthcare personnel conducted between March 27 and April 17, 2018. Across all settings, 78.4% of healthcare workers reported receiving the flu vaccine in 2017-2018. CDC recommends that all U.S. healthcare personnel receive the flu vaccine every year. Personnel whose employers required them to be vaccinated had the highest rates of vaccination (94.8%). Settings where vaccination was not required, promoted, or offered on-site saw the lowest rates (47.6%). This finding is consistent with the results of previous seasons, CDC said. Because personnel working in long-term care settings have lower vaccination rates, older residents are at increased risk for severe complications of influenza, CDC said. CDC noted that, along with protecting patients, vaccinating healthcare workers reduces incidence of flu among staff and thus decreases work absences. Strategies such as requiring vaccination and actively promoting free, on-site vaccinations could improve vaccination rates, CDC said. Organizations should also remember to offer vaccinations to nonclinical staff, CDC said. In related news, the flu season has begun, according to a September 27, 2018, statement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The flu vaccine last season was less effective than it had been in previous years, FDA says. The agency says it has worked closely with CDC and other agencies to ensure that this year's vaccine is as effective as possible, adding that it has confidence (based on the strain of flu that has circulated in the Southern Hemisphere) that they have chosen the correct vaccine.
HRC Recommends: Risk managers should encourage their facilities to implement a vaccine promotion program for staff and track vaccination rates as a patient safety and quality goal and implement a vaccination program for healthcare personnel. Aside from state or healthcare organization requirements for vaccination, the literature suggests that no single specific method or component will make a vaccine promotion campaign successful; rather, a multifaceted approach is often suggested. Reviewing the components of the vaccination program can help identify people's reasons for declining vaccination and can provide information on how to improve the program. A thorough review can help providers understand the strengths and weaknesses of vaccination efforts; subsequent changes, and possible addition of strategies to the program, can help to increase the vaccination rate.