Flu Vaccine Coverage for Healthcare Workers Still Lacking

Laurie Barclay, MD

September 19, 2014

To increase influenza vaccination coverage among healthcare personnel (HCP) and lower the risk for influenza for them and their patients, comprehensive vaccination strategies are needed, according to 2 reports published in the September 18 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends annual influenza vaccination for all [HCP] to reduce influenza-related morbidity and mortality in health care settings," write Carla L. Black, PhD, from the Immunization Services Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and colleagues. Estimated overall HCP vaccination coverage was 66.9% for the 2011 to 2012 season and 72.0% for the 2012 to 2013 season, they write.

Using an opt-in Internet panel survey, Dr. Black and colleagues determined that during the 2013 to 2014 influenza season, influenza vaccination coverage among HCP overall was 75.2%, which is similar to the coverage in 2012 to 2013. Coverage among nurses improved from 84.8% in 2012 to 2013 to 90.5% in 2013 to 2014.

Subgroups with higher rates of vaccination coverage were

  • physicians overall (92.2%),

  • HCP working in hospitals (89.6%), and

  • HCP at workplaces where vaccination was offered at no cost for 1 day (61.6%) or multiple days (80.4%).

Subgroups with lower rates of vaccination coverage were

  • assistants/aides overall (57.7%),

  • HCP working in long-term care settings (63.0%), and

  • HCP at workplaces not offering free on-site vaccination (49.0%).

"Comprehensive worksite intervention strategies that include vaccination promotion and convenient access to vaccination at no cost might increase vaccination coverage among HCP," the report authors write.

The second report, by Megan C. Lindley, MPH, from the Immunization Services Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC, describes influenza vaccination coverage specifically among HCP based in 4254 acute care hospitals (representing 85% of US community hospitals).

During the 2013 to 2014 influenza season, 81.8% of HCP included in National Healthcare Safety Network data were vaccinated against influenza. For all HCP groups, coverage rates varied widely by state. Employees were more likely to be vaccinated than licensed independent practitioners (86.1% vs 61.9%).

"Public reporting of vaccination data has been shown to increase HCP influenza vaccination coverage," the report authors write. "These data provide a baseline from which to measure changes in reported hospital-based HCP vaccination and in ability to track HCP vaccination. Improvements in hospitals' ability to track licensed independent practitioners might result in higher reported vaccination among these HCP in future influenza seasons."

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63:805-815. Black full text , Lindley full text


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