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Easy access to flu shots boosts health care worker compliance: CDC

flu shot
Photo: fstop123/iStockphoto

Atlanta — Nearly 4 out of 5 health care providers received an influenza vaccination during the 2017-2018 flu season, according to a recently released annual report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends all health care professionals get vaccinated to help reduce flu-related problems for themselves and their patients, and to decrease worker absenteeism.

Reviewing data submitted by 2,265 health care providers for the 2017-18 flu season, researchers found that 78.4 percent of health care workers reported receiving the vaccination. Last year, the flu was linked to a record-breaking estimated 900,000 hospitalizations and more than 80,000 deaths, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases states in a Sept. 27 press release.

The researchers said the vaccination rate was highest among personnel required by employers to be vaccinated (94.8 percent) and lowest among those working in settings that did not require, promote or offer free onsite vaccinations (47.6 percent).

Physicians led all professions in vaccination compliance (96.1 percent), followed by pharmacists (92.2 percent), nurses (90.5 percent) and nurse practitioners/physician assistants (87.8 percent). Compliance was lowest among health care assistants and aides (71.1 percent).

ACIP has surveyed health care providers since 2010 to monitor flu immunization participation levels, which have risen 15 percentage points since the 2010-11 season. The researchers attribute the increase to employer mandates, onsite availability and offering the vaccine for free.

“Last season illustrated what every public health official knows – influenza can be serious in people of all ages, even in the healthiest children and adults,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams said in the release. “It is critical that we focus national attention on the importance of influenza vaccination to protect as many people as possible every season.”

The survey results were published Sept. 28 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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