More Clinicians Should Get Flu Vaccination, CDC Says

Janis C. Kelly

September 27, 2018

Yearly influenza vaccination is a standard recommendation for all healthcare professionals (HCPs) to protect themselves and their patients, but new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that rates of flu vaccination among HCPs have stalled at about 74% since 2014.

The vaccination rate was particularly low among those working in long-term care settings (67.4%) and settings where vaccination was not required, not promoted, or not offered on-site (47.6%), report Carla L. Black, PhD, and colleagues in today's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The researchers note that vaccination rates are highest in workplaces with vaccination requirements (94.8%) and that rates can be improved by offering worksite vaccination at low or no cost for 1 day (70.4%) or by actively promoting vaccination (75.1%).

"Influenza vaccination coverage among healthcare personnel working in long-term care settings, the majority of whom work as assistants and aides, continues to be consistently lower than that among healthcare personnel working in all other healthcare settings. Influenza vaccination among healthcare personnel in long-term care settings is especially important because influenza vaccine efficacy is generally lowest among the elderly, who are at increased risk for severe disease," the authors write.

"In contrast to healthcare personnel working in hospitals, a much lower proportion of survey respondents working in long-term care settings reported having a requirement for vaccination, and 23.5% reported that their employer did not require, make available on-site at no cost, or promote vaccination in any way."

The analysis was based on an opt-in Internet panel survey of 2265 US HCPs conducted between March 27, 2018 and April 17, 2018.

Vaccination coverage varied by work setting and profession. Vaccination rates were 91.9% for those working in hospitals, 75.1% for those working in ambulatory care, 74.9% for those working in other clinical settings, and 67.4% for those working in long-term care.

The overall vaccination rate of 74.8% among HCPs was 15-points higher than during the 2010-2011 season but was not significantly different from the past 4 years, the authors write.

Physicians had the highest influenza vaccination coverage (96.1%), followed by pharmacists (92.2%), nurses (90.5%), nurse practitioners/physician assistants (87.8%), other clinical personnel (80.9%), assistants and aides (71.1%), and nonclinical HCPs (72.8%).

The authors note that the majority of HCPs in long-term care settings are assistants and aides. They suggest that implementing workplace vaccination programs that have been successful in increasing coverage in hospital settings, such as vaccination requirements. They also suggest that use of the CDC's They also suggest that use of the CDC's digital campaign and long-term care employers toolkits could increase influenza vaccine coverage among HCPs.

The authors emphasize that the CDC, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee recommend that all healthcare workers get the annual flu vaccine.

The authors have reported no relevant financial relationships.

MMWR. 2018; 67:1050-1054. Article

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