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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

30-day flu vaccine reporting rule scrapped in favor of new 'one-day' measure

Reporting influenza immunization rates will be a bit easier this flu season, thanks to the efforts of employee health professionals, Hospital Employee Health reports.

As of January 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) required acute care hospitals to report vaccination rates of employees, licensed independent practitioners, students or trainees, and volunteers through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The problem: Only individuals who worked in the hospital for 30 days or more between October 1 and March 31 were to be counted.

That 30-day rule was initially created to reduce the reporting burden on hospitals by eliminating people who spend only a day or a few days there, says Megan Lindley, MPH, a CDC epidemiologist coordinating the reporting project. However, for many hospitals, it turned out to be much harder to determine who was in the facility for 30 days.

“They basically all said, ‘This isn’t really how we track people in the facility. It actually doesn’t make it easier, it makes it more difficult,’” she says.

As a result, the measure has been changed to count any employees, licensed independent professionals, volunteers or students who were in the facility for at least one day during the flu season.

The National Quality Forum agreed to alter the measure, says Lindley. The data are reported to CMS on May 15 of each year through the NHSN. The measure launched in January, in the middle of the flu season, so the May 2013 reports were essentially a trial run, says Lindley.

This 2013-2014 flu season will be the first publicly reported data, she says.

--Michele Marill

For more on this story see the October 2013 issue of HEH