JCAHO creates flu immunization standard

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has approved a new infection control standard that requires accredited organizations to offer influenza vaccinations to staff, which includes volunteers, and licensed independent practitioners with close patient contact. The standard will become an accreditation requirement beginning Jan. 1, 2007, for both hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The Joint Commission developed the standard in response to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention making the reduction of influenza transmission from health care professionals to patients a top priority in the United States. The new standard requires organizations to:

  • establish an annual influenza vaccination program that includes at least staff and licensed independent practitioners;
  • provide access to influenza vaccinations on-site;
  • educate staff and licensed independent practitioners about flu vaccination; nonvaccine control measures (such as the use of appropriate precautions); and diagnosis, transmission and potential impact of influenza;
  • annually evaluate vaccination rates and reasons for nonparticipation in the organization's immunization program;
  • implement enhancements to the program to increase participation.