CDC says make immunizing workers a high priority’

Flu shots urged by HICPAC, ACIP

New guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on immunizing health care workers against seasonal influenza make the following key points and recommendations:

Influenza transmission and outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes are well documented. Health care personnel (HCP) can acquire influenza from patients or transmit influenza to patients and other staff. Despite the documented benefits of HCP influenza vaccination on patient outcomes and HCP absenteeism and on reducing influenza infection among staff, vaccination coverage among HCP remains low (i.e., <50%). Because HCP provide care to patients at high risk for complications of influenza, HCP should be considered a high priority for expanding influenza vaccine use. In addition, older HCP (i.e., aged >65 years) and those who have underlying chronic medical conditions or who might be pregnant are at increased risk for influenza-related complications. Achieving and sustaining high vaccination coverage among HCP will protect staff and their patients, and reduce disease burden and health care costs.

Recommendations (All of the following are recommended; for the specific ranking assigned to each recommendation please see the CDC guidelines.1)

  • Educate HCP regarding the benefits of influenza vaccination and the potential health consequences of influenza illness for themselves and their patients, the epidemiology and modes of transmission, diagnosis, treatment, and nonvaccine infection control strategies, in accordance with their level of responsibility in preventing health care-associated influenza.
  • Offer influenza vaccine annually to all eligible HCP to protect staff, patients, and family members and to decrease HCP absenteeism. Use of either available vaccine (inactivated and live, attenuated influenza vaccine [LAIV]) is recommended for eligible persons. During periods when inactivated vaccine is in short supply, use of LAIV is especially encouraged when feasible for eligible HCP.
  • Provide influenza vaccination to HCP at the work site and at no cost as one component of employee health programs. Use strategies that have been demonstrated to increase influenza vaccine acceptance, including vaccination clinics, mobile carts, vaccination access during all work shifts, and modeling and support by institutional leaders.
  • Obtain a signed declination from HCP who decline influenza vaccination for reasons other than medical contraindications.
  • Monitor HCP influenza vaccination coverage and declination at regular intervals during influenza season and provide feedback of ward-, unit-, and specialty-specific rates to staff and administration Use the level of HCP influenza vaccination coverage as one measure of a patient safety quality program.

Reference

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza Vaccination of Health-Care Personnel Recommendations of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) MMWR 2006; 55: 1-16.