The 2008 survey also showed that more than a quarter of staff who provide direct patient care at Johns Hopkins got last year's seasonal flu vaccination somewhere other than at the hospital, boosting the actual seasonal flu vaccination rate at the start of the 2008-2009 season from an original estimate of 72 percent.
Senior study investigator Edward Bernacki, M.D., M.P.H., who as director of occupational health, safety and environment at Johns Hopkins monitors the hospital's vaccination program, says his group was surprised to find that so many staff chose to get vaccinated elsewhere, including neighborhood drugstores and supermarkets, which have recently started offering the annual vaccination at no charge to customers, or for free at other hospitals where they hold second jobs.
"It was promising to learn that so many staff were getting vaccinated elsewhere, as opposed to what we had been thinking, which was that they were not getting vaccinated at all," says Bernacki, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins.
Another factor in the higher vaccination rate, he says, may have been the hospital's policy requiring employees working in patient clinics who chose not to get vaccinated to wear a face mask at work. Seasonal flu vaccination is not mandatory at the vast majority of academic medical center in the United States, including Johns Hopkins.
"We implemented this policy to protect our patients, but it also had an added benefit of encouraging staff to do what was right and to get vaccinated," says Bernacki, who points out that making progress in upping vaccination rates is not just good policy, it is also the law.
In 2009, both the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland began requiring all hospitals to report their yearly progress in vaccinating staff. "That is why it is critical to track the numbers," says Bernacki. "If all medical centers took similar steps to promote vaccination and also monitored th
|Contact: David March|
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions