Seasonal Flu Immunization Strategies
Seasonal influenza in health care workers is a personal health threat, but also poses a significant risk to the patients in their care. In an effort to help health care organizations improve the rate of health care worker influenza vaccinations, The Joint Commission is releasing a monograph “Providing a Safer Environment for Health Care Personnel and Patients Through Influenza Vaccination: Strategies from Research and Practice.”
The monograph, which was supported by an educational grant from sanofi pasteur, is the result of the project Strategies for Implementing Successful Influenza Immunization Programs for Health Care Personnel, a 10-month collaboration between The Joint Commission, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
The monograph includes information about seasonal influenza and the influenza vaccine, barriers to successful programs and strategies for overcoming them, and examples of successful initiatives organizations have used to improve their influenza vaccination rates. The Joint Commission received more than 229 submissions from health care organizations and a subset of submissions was selected for a panel review. Ultimately, 28 submissions were selected for inclusion in the monograph.
The monograph incorporates evidence-based guidelines and published literature to highlight practical strategies and the tools submitted by health care organizations. Electronic copies of the monograph are available on The Joint Commission’s Web site and can be downloaded free of charge.
“Health care worker flu vaccination rates have been less than optimal for years and the vaccination rate is still below 50 percent. Organizations are eager to find ways to encourage their employees to get vaccinated,” says Jerod M. Loeb, Ph.D., executive vice president, Division of Quality Measurement and Research, The Joint Commission. “The monograph includes strategies that organizations can employ and provides a foundation to improve vaccination rates.”
According to the CDC, vaccination coverage of health care personnel remains low despite the documented benefits on patient outcomes, staff absenteeism and reducing infections among staff. In addition, increased vaccination rates can reduce costs within health care organizations. Health care personnel can acquire seasonal influenza from patients and can also spread the disease to vulnerable patients or other staff. In 2007, The Joint Commission implemented a new standard in hospitals and long term care facilities requiring that influenza vaccinations be offered to staff and practitioners.