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Strict policy raises hospital's worker flu vaccination rate
Date:12/12/2011

CHICAGO (December 12, 2011) -- A California hospital raised its employee influenza vaccination rate above 90 percent by shifting from a voluntary vaccination program to one mandating all healthcare workers either get vaccinated or wear a mask at work for the entire flu season (December through March).

A five-year study of evolving flu vaccination programs at University of California Irvine Medical Center is published in the January 2012 issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. The results, the authors say, suggest voluntary programs are not enough to get meaningful increases in flu vaccination rates for healthcare workers.

The systematic effort by University of California Irvine Healthcare to raise vaccination rates among its 6,500 employees began in 2006. Initial efforts focused on educating employees and making vaccines free of charge and conveniently available. During the 2007 and 2008 flu seasons, efforts were advanced to also include a mandatory declination strategy, the use of mobile carts and decentralized vaccine distribution by designated nurses in clinical areas.

According to the study, the voluntary campaign raised rates from around 45 percent to 60 percent. "Nevertheless, the use of these campaigns, even over a two-year period, was unable to increase [healthcare worker] vaccination rates beyond 60 percent," the researchers write. "Only the addition of a mandatory vaccination policy enabled instantaneous gains in vaccination to levels above 90 percent."

The mandatory campaign requiring vaccination or wearing a mask while in medical areas began in 2009, raising rates that season to nearly 87 percent. In addition to the mask requirement, employees who were not vaccinated were required to sign a written declination. A real-time tracking tool was also implemented to provide online-accessible lists of compliant and non-compliant st
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Contact: Tamara Moore
tmoore@gymr.com
202-745-5114
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
Source:Eurekalert

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