CDC Survey Suggests Workplace Initiatives Increase Flu Vaccination

Gina Kokosky, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Monday, October 1st, 2018
All health care professionals should receive an annual influenza vaccine to both prevent the spread of illness among their colleagues and patients and reduce the amount of sick days taken by health care personnel, according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Surveys concluded that strategies to increase workplace immunization, such as requiring vaccination or promoting free onsite vaccines, lead to increased vaccination rates, according to the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The CDC surveyed 2,265 health care professionals to determine how many were vaccinated during the 2017-2018 flu season and concluded that 74.8% had received a flu vaccine. This data was consistent with data collected during the past 4 flu seasons, according to the CDC.
Health care professionals were most likely to be vaccinated when their employers had mandated annual flu vaccinations, with 94.8% adhering to the requirement. The professionals with the lowest vaccination rate, 47.6%, worked in settings where flu vaccination was not required, promoted, or offered onsite, according to the CDC.
Those who worked in long-term care facilities, particularly as assistants or aides, were less likely to be vaccinated than health care personnel in all other settings. Due to these low vaccination rates, elderly patients in long-term care settings are at an increased risk for flu exposure that can potentially result in severe complications, according to the CDC.
Hospital settings, which often have vaccination requirements, had the highest vaccination rate at 91.9%. Those in ambulatory care followed with a 75.1% vaccination rate, and other clinical settings had a vaccination rate of 74.9%. Long term care settings had the lowest vaccination rate, with 67.4% of professionals being vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Among all health care professions, physicians and pharmacists were most likely to be immunized with a vaccination rate of 96.1% and 92.2% respectively, followed by nurses with a vaccination rate of 90.5%. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants had vaccination rates of 87.8%, while 80.9% of other clinical health care personnel had been vaccinated. Assistants or aides and nonclinical health care professionals had lower rates of 71.1% and 72.8%, respectively.
Vaccination rates were highest, at 94.8%, among those working in a setting with required vaccinations, with 44.1% of health care professionals reporting a workplace vaccination requirement. Of the workplaces with mandated flu vaccines, those working in hospitals were most likely report a vaccination requirement, at 68.3%, followed by 39.2% of ambulatory care, 37.9% of other clinical settings, and 29.6% of long-term care facilities, according to the survey.
Vaccination rates were also higher among workplaces that offered onsite vaccination at no cost to the employee. Health care settings that provided this service for one day had vaccination rates of 70.4%, and settings with onsite vaccines for several days had a vaccination rate of 76%. Workplaces that did not offer onsite vaccinations, but actively promoted and incentivized vaccination, had a vaccination rate of 75.1%, while workplaces with no vaccine requirements or advocacy had rates of 47.6%, according to the survey.
The CDC recommends that all health care professionals receive vaccines. The survey results suggest the best way to increase vaccination among health care professionals is for workplaces to either require them, offer them onsite, or advocate for all employees to be vaccinated.

Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Health Care Personnel—United States 2017-18 Influenza Season. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. CDC’s Website. September 28, 2018. Accessed September 28, 2018. 

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