Website spotlight: Flu shot compliance varies among hospital, non-hospital, and EMS employees

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 8, 2012

It's that time of year again, when infection preventionists (IP) and safety officers begin to plan their ­annual employee flu shot campaign.

For many facilities, the challenges of improving compliance rates remain the same. Despite the typical approaches of making the vaccine free and readily ­available, IPs and safety officers still face cultural roadblocks and misperceptions surrounding influenza vaccination.

At the same time, many facilities have transitioned to a mandatory policy that requires all healthcare employees to get vaccinated as a condition of employment, with provisions for medical contraindications and religious reasons.

Three studies published this year have collected data evaluating compliance rates among hospital healthcare workers (HCW), non-hospital HCWs (outpatient and clinics), and EMS ­workers in the St. Louis region ­during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 flu seasons. The studies also looked at H1N1 vaccine compliance during the 2009 outbreak when the H1N1 was a separate vaccination.

In general, the studies highlight areas of ­educational focus in terms of healthcare worker fears and misconceptions, as well as definitive data that shows a mandatory policy drastically improves compliance, says Terri ­Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, associate professor at the Institute for Biosecurity at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and lead author of all three studies.

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