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

Feds put mandatory flu shot policies on the table in draft guidelines

Infection preventionists and employee health professionals have through this Monday Jan. 16th to submit comments on new federal draft guidelines designed to increase flu immunization rates of health care workers to 90%. The recommendations are more forceful than those typically issued by the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention, recommending facilities with lagging rates “strongly consider” mandatory policies.

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) recommendations were drafted by its Healthcare Personnel Influenza Vaccination Subgroup. An advisory committee to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NVAC is scheduled to meet Feb. 7, 2012. The key recommendations in the draft are summarized as follows: 1: Healthcare facilities should establish comprehensive influenza infection prevention programs as recommended by the CDC as an essential step to achieve the Healthy People 2020 influenza vaccine coverage goal of 90%.

2: Healthcare facilities should integrate influenza vaccination programs into their existing infection prevention programs or occupational health programs.

3: The CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should continue efforts to standardize the methodology used to measure healthcare personnel (HCP) influenza vaccination rates across settings, linking vaccine coverage levels and quality improvement activities. The HHS should also work with CMS to implement incentives, penalties, or requirements that facilitate adoption of this recommendation.

4: Facilities that have implemented the aforementioned recommendations 1, 2 and 3, but cannot achieve the 90% influenza goal in an efficient and timely manner, should strongly consider an employer requirement for influenza immunization.

5: The HHS should encourage ongoing efforts to develop new and improved influenza vaccines and vaccine technologies. This includes support for research, development, and licensure of influenza vaccines with improved immunogenicity and duration of immunity, as well as steps that improve the immunogenicity and rapid production of existing influenza vaccines.