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Gary Evans writes Hospital Infection Control & Prevention (HIC), Hospital Employee Health (HEH) and contributes to IRB Advisor (IRB). As senior writer at AHC, Evans has written numerous articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and health care workers, including pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
A majority of U.S. hospitals has achieved the Healthy People 2020 goal of vaccinating at least 90% of their employees against influenza, but they have struggled to track the vaccinations of doctors, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants.
By mid-May, 4,254 hospitals reported their 2013-2014 influenza vaccination rates, as required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and their median vaccination rate for employees was 90%, according to a preliminary review of the data.
That represents great progress in vaccinating health care personnel, says Megan C. Lindley, MPH, deputy associate director for science at the Immunization Services Division of the National Center for Immunization & Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s definitely impressive and worthy of congratulations to the hospitals,” she says.
The high rates also reflect a steady movement toward mandatory vaccination policies. The Immunization Action Coalition in St. Paul, MN, maintains an “honor roll” of hospitals and other health care organizations that have mandated influenza vaccination. It now contains more than 400 names.
Every month, more hospitals ask to be added to the list, says Deborah Wexler, MD, executive director of the Immunization Action Coalition. The coalition began the honor roll as a recognition program in October 2009 with 11 hospitals and health systems. “It’s snowballing,” she says.