Boosting Flu Vaccine Coverage Among Healthcare Workers
MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Through its FluSafe recognition program, Minnesota is helping hospitals and nursing homes boost employee flu vaccination rates, promoting safety for patients and healthcare workers.
October 29, 2019
The single best way to protect against influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated each year. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who work in healthcare settings because they are at increased risk for getting the flu and passing it on to patients—many of whom are vulnerable to serious complications from the illness. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all healthcare personnel receive the flu vaccine every year, but about one-fifth of US healthcare workers don’t get the vaccine, leaving themselves and their patients at risk.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is combatting this problem through an innovative, voluntary program called FluSafeexternal icon. This program, first launched in 2010, gives special recognition to Minnesota hospitals and long-term care facilities that achieve high flu vaccination rates among their employees. Each year since, hospitals and nursing homes across the state have chosen to participate in FluSafe to publicly demonstrate their commitment to patient safety. The facilities design their own vaccination campaigns, enhanced by tools and guidance from MDH and CDC. Then they document their annual vaccination rates through the state’s immunization information system, the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection.
At the end of each flu season, the hospitals and nursing homes that achieved staff vaccination rates of at least 90% are designated as “FluSafe” and receive a recognition letter, certificate, customizable social media messages, and a matte press release they can use to promote their status. MDH also publishes a press release each fall to recognize the FluSafe facilities and posts a list of them on its website.
During the 2018‒19 flu season, 109 facilities enrolled in the program, and 69 of those—43 hospitals and 26 nursing homes—were recognizedexternal icon for achieving 90% or higher employee flu vaccination rates. FluSafe facilities must also report on strategiesexternal icon they use to address common barriers to healthcare worker vaccination, such as staff turnover, lack of access to the vaccine, lack of enthusiasm about flu vaccination, and the need for culturally appropriate vaccination services.
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