Blog | Tuesday, December 20, 2011

QD: News Every Day--5 steps for flu prevention should include mandates for health care workers

Health care facilities should consider mandatory flu vaccinations for their employees if other attempts don't increase rates to 90%, a draft statement from a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) working group stated.

All public health services, HHS staff and Federally Qualified Health Centers should follow suit, stated the Health Care Personnel Influenza Vaccination Subgroup in draft recommendations.

The working group released five steps to boost vaccination rates:
--Employers should establish comprehensive flu infection prevention programs as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to achieve the Healthy People 2020 influenza vaccine coverage goal of 90%.
--Employers should integrate flu vaccination programs into their existing infection prevention programs.
--HHS should encourage CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to standardize the methodology used to measure health workers' flu vaccination rates, as well implement incentives, penalties or requirements that facilitate adoption.
--Employers and facilities that still can't achieve 90% flu vaccination rates among workers after following the three previous steps should strongly consider an employer requirement.
--HHS should encourage developing new and improved vaccines and vaccine technologies, including support for research, development and licensure of vaccines with better immunogenicity and duration.

According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, annual vaccination is the most effective flu prevention strategy. Immunizing health care workers protects them, keeps them at work during flu season and protects coworkers and patients.

The report notes that while vaccination is the best-documented and most effective intervention to prevent the flu, it's tough to definitively measure. Outcomes for patients varied widely between the studies considered by the working group.