Blog | Thursday, December 8, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Health workers getting far more flu vaccines than in past years

Far more health care workers got flu vaccines this year than at the same point last year, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although rates are still far less than ideal.

While flu vaccination rates among health care professionals have risen slowly over the past decade, less than half this group were vaccinated until the 2009-10 season, when an estimated 62% of health care workers received seasonal flu vaccines and an additional 2% of workers got only the H1N1 influenza vaccination, the report said. In the 2010-11 season, 63.5% of health care professionals reported flu vaccination.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all health care professionals get the flu vaccine every year, and the national Healthy People 2020 objective for health care professionals influenza vaccination is 90%.
Other key findings:
--Results from an April 2011 survey suggested that an additional 8% of health care personnel were vaccinated from November 2010 through the end of the 2010-11 season. If a similar proportion is vaccinated after early November this year, overall coverage will still remain substantially below the Healthy People 2020 objective.
--Influenza vaccination coverage varied by work setting, from 45.1% among health care professionals working in long-term care facilities to 64.4% in physicians offices to 77.8% among health care professionals working in hospitals.
--Among unvaccinated health care personnel who did not intend to get the flu vaccine, the most common reason reported was not thinking that flu vaccines work.
The CDC report's authors said efforts should continue to focus on educating health care professionals about the safety and effectiveness of influenza vaccination and its importance to prevent influenza for themselves, their friends and families, and their patients.

"Education targeting health care professionals working in non-hospital settings and health care professionals who work as technicians or in non-clinical positions may be particularly important," they wrote. "Influenza can spread rapidly in health care settings, and vaccination is the first and most important step health care personnel can take to protect against influenza."

One solution would be offering vaccination to health care professionals at workplaces, since over three-quarters of health care professionals received the influenza vaccine at work. Free vaccination may also increase inoculation rates, since 20% of health care professionals who received the flu vaccine said that no charge was one of the main reasons they were vaccinated.