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Society, others set 95% flu vaccination rate goal for health care personnel

The Wisconsin Medical Society and four other health care organizations in the state are encouraging their members to implement an evidence-based initiative to achieve an influenza vaccination rate of greater than 95 percent as part of their comprehensive approach to prevent health care-associated infections. To assist health care organizations with implementing policies and practices that require health care personnel to obtain an annual influenza vaccination, the organizations prepared a Health Care Personnel Influenza Vaccination Implementation Toolkit.

In support of their goal of achieving an influenza vaccination rate of greater than 95 percent, the organizations recommend that influenza vaccination become a condition of employment and maintenance of medical staff privileges. The Society, Wisconsin Hospital Association, Wisconsin Health Care Association/Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living and Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin along with LeadingAge Wisconsin are leading the effort to protect the lives and welfare of patients and employees, improve quality and reduce health care costs.

“Vaccination of health care personnel against influenza not only protects patients and their families, but also protects our valuable workforce against illness,” said Society CEO Rick Abrams and leaders from the four organizations in an introductory message in the toolkit, which is available on the Society’s website.

The toolkit briefly outlines some of the evidence that supports movement to a program that requires health care personnel to receive influenza vaccinations along with the position statements adopted by several national health care and professional organizations. It also includes model policies and other forms; implementation, education and communication tips; and promising practices from Wisconsin health care organizations.

A 2012 article in WMJ, the Society’s peer-reviewed scientific journal, (vol. 111, no. 2) outlined how Aurora Health Care increased its influenza vaccination rate among health care personnel to 97.7 percent after adopting a condition-of-employment policy in 2011. The policy requires all employees with and without direct patient contact, contracted providers, students and volunteers to receive an annual influenza vaccination or an approved exemption by December 31 each year.

“Adoption of a similar process among health care systems that fail to achieve 90 percent employee vaccination rates has been proposed by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee,” the authors wrote. “Such a program would have the greatest impact during severe influenza seasons, which disproportionally affect HCWs who much be available to serve the public.”

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