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

Flu vaccination rates rise overall, but 24% of nurses decline

UPDATE and Correction: In a CDC survey on flu immunization the number of nurses immunized was 76%, meaning 24% declined. In the category of "other” health care personnel 41% declined. That latter percentage was incorrectly attributed to the nurses category in a previous version of this post.

With the “M” word (mandate) now part of the national conversation, health care workers appear to be overcoming their historical apathy toward seasonal influenza vaccinations. A national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that that by mid-November last year, about 78% of respondents had been vaccinated — a rate that is almost double the estimated rates of about five years ago. The highest vaccination rates were among physicians and dentists (78%), nurse practitioners and physician assistants (77%). Nurses followed with a 76% immunization rate. The online survey of about 2,500 health care workers took place in early to mid-November 2011. Pressure continues to build for hospitals to boost their rates higher. Influenza vaccination rates will be publicly reported as a quality measure by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services starting in 2013. And the Joint Commission accrediting agency revised its influenza vaccination standard to require hospitals to improve vaccination rates annually with a goal of achieving the 90% rate established in the national influenza initiatives for 2020. The push for a 90% flu vaccination rate has led a growing number of hospitals to implement mandatory policies. About one in six (17.3%) of all health care workers responding to the CDC survey said their employers required them to receive the vaccine.