Influenza Vaccination Rates Among Health Care Personnel Remain Well Below National Goal

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Highlights Critical Need for

Improved Rates; Illustrates Best Practices

Feb 27, 2008, 00:00 ET from National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

    BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to recent data
 revealing that only 42 percent of health care personnel have received their
 annual influenza vaccination, the National Foundation for Infectious
 Diseases (NFID) has published two new reports: a Call to Action urging
 health care personnel to receive annual influenza vaccines and a Best
 Practices report illustrating innovative programs for increasing
 immunization rates.
     These reports are part of a major initiative led by NFID to address the
 critical need to improve influenza vaccination rates among health care
 personnel. Despite many public health organizations' recommendations that
 health care personnel be vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and
 Prevention (CDC) data reveal that more than half do not receive their
 annual influenza vaccination.
     "Too many valuable health care personnel risk contracting influenza
 because they have not been vaccinated," said William Schaffner, M.D., Vice
 President, NFID. "Even more troubling is the fact that these employees risk
 spreading the virus among the sick and often immunocompromised patients
 under their care. These reports, together, elevate awareness of the
 implications of unvaccinated health care personnel and offer health
 facilities innovative solutions for increasing influenza vaccination among
 their employees."
     Call to Action Sheds Light on Vaccination Gaps
     The Call to Action, "Influenza Immunization among Health Care
 Personnel," urges employers to dedicate adequate resources to ensure
 influenza immunization in the workplace. Health care personnel include all
 persons working in health care settings, including home health care, who
 have contact with patients.
     Unvaccinated health facility employees can be a significant source of
 influenza virus transmission -- among each other and to patients. Indeed,
 the Call to Action report cites resources suggesting that unvaccinated
 health care personnel can be a key cause of influenza outbreaks in health
 care settings. One example is a 65-person outbreak in a long-term care
 facility in which only one in 10 health care personnel was vaccinated
 against influenza -- resulting in hospitalizations and a few deaths.
     Influenza can put a significant economic burden on employers and all
 workplace environments. Influenza outbreaks force employees to cover shifts
 and rearrange schedules, causing unnecessary stress. Conversely, fewer
 cases of influenza among staff mean fewer sick days and hospitalizations.
     Four years ago, the CDC issued recommendations encouraging health care
 personnel vaccination; since then, however, vaccination rates have
 fluctuated and they remain unacceptably low. These rates have led NFID and
 its supporters to resume and build on previous public health efforts to
 increase influenza vaccination rates.
     Best Practices Report: Strategies to Increase HCP Immunization Rates
     The content of the report, "Immunizing Healthcare Personnel Against
 Influenza: A Report on Best Practices," was derived from a recent
 roundtable meeting involving representatives from several national
 organizations, including the American Medical Association, CDC, and The
 Joint Commission, to discuss the successes and challenges of immunization
 practices. These same groups, among others, also support NFID in its Call
 to Action report.
     Programs developed by Virginia Mason Medical Center, St. Jude
 Children's Research Center, Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and
 Cleveland Clinic successfully increased influenza vaccination rates among
 health care personnel. While each case study reveals its successes, each
 also illustrates the discussions and obstacles that occurred during the
 process. The report also includes an extensive overview of state
 legislative and regulatory efforts to increase influenza immunization rates
 among health care personnel.
     "This report outlines the complexities of implementing effective
 workforce immunization programs that serve to protect both health care
 personnel and the patients they serve," noted Susan J. Rehm, M.D., Medical
 Director, NFID. "We've found that providers across various health care
 settings struggle with the same issues when it comes to immunizing staff
 against influenza-issues like voluntary participation, addressing concerns
 about safety and efficacy, convenience."
A variety of approaches and activities outlined in these reports, include: -- Mobile vaccination cart programs -- Free vaccinations on-site -- Intensive education and awareness programs -- Use of new technologies -- Signed declination forms -- State legislation and mandate programs Both reports are available on NFID's Web site at The Health Care Personnel Call to Action was made possible through an unrestricted educational grant to NFID from sanofi pasteur. The Best Practices report was made possible through funding support to NFID from CSL Biotherapies. About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit, tax-exempt (501c3) organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. Contact: Sharon Cooper-Kerr
(301) 656-0003 x 18

SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases