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A “Must Do” to Avoid Flu

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 12, 2015

In advance of National Influenza Vaccination Week, it's time to get on board with universal influenza vaccinations for health care workers.



By Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS

Tejal K. Gandhi

 

The National Patient Safety Foundation this week re-issued an important policy statement initially issued in 2009: Support for mandatory influenza vaccination of health care workers. We took this stance six years ago in light of evidence that supports the ability of vaccination to prevent the flu in health care workers, which in turn can reduce the rate of infection among patients.

 

According to the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), flu vaccination by health care workers serves multiple purposes, including preventing transmission to patients; reducing the risk of influenza infection in the vaccinated health care workers; creating “herd immunity” that protects both health professionals and patients who are unable to receive the vaccine or unlikely to develop an immune response; reducing the impact of workforce absences due to illness during flu season; and modeling how important vaccination is for everyone. (See Revised SHEA Position Paper: Influenza Vaccination of Healthcare Personnel.)

 

Earlier this year, writing for the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute, Dr. Bob Wachter argued in a Health Affairs blog post that influenza vaccination (along with hand hygiene) should be a “must do” practice among health care workers. The Institute chose these practices because they meet five specific criteria: the patient safety problem they address is important; the practice is recognized as being effective; the impact of compliance is significant in terms of the harm that would be prevented; universal compliance is feasible; and the practice has been accepted by professional societies and by professional consensus.

 

If you’ve checked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu website, you’ll know that there is good news and less good news about vaccination among health care workers. Pharmacists win the title of highest percentage vaccinated last season, and hospitals rank highest among all settings for staff vaccination. But there is still a lot of opportunity for improvement, particularly in long-term care settings, where vaccination rates are among the lowest.

 

National Influenza Vaccination Week is observed next month, December 6-12, 2015. But you don’t need to wait until then to get your flu shot. Do it today.

 

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? Comment on this post below. Note: To comment, you must first register on the website. If you are already registered, you must log in to comment.


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Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, is president and chief executive officer of the National Patient Safety Foundation and of the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute.


Tags:  flu  vaccination 

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