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

Joint Commission challenges hospitals to go for gold

Give the stick a rest and pick up the carrot. In an era when controversial mandatory flu vaccine policies threaten to end up in some high court as a cause celebre, the Joint Commission is urging health care systems to go for the proverbial gold.

Joint Commission Resources recently launched the 4th annual Flu Vaccination Challenge – a nationwide charge to health care organizations to raise their flu vaccination rate among staff.

“Flu vaccination of health care workers is important not only to help protect themselves, but also to reduce the risk of flu infection for patients,” the JCR states. “Studies have shown that HCWs can be a potential source of flu infection in healthcare settings.”

For the 2011-2012 flu season, JCR challenges organizations to reach a 75%, 85%, or 95% staff vaccination rate (bronze, silver, or gold, respectively). Last year, the average flu vaccination rate among participating health care organizations was 80% – 16% higher than the national flu vaccination average estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for health care workers (63.5%).

More than 1,200 health care organizations participated in the 2010-2011 Flu Vaccination Challenge. Of the organizations that submitted data (n=826), 60% increased their flu vaccination coverage among staff from the previous season. As part of the Flu Vaccination Challenge, approximately 780,000 health care workers were vaccinated against the flu during the 2010-2011 flu season, the JCR reports.

Last flu season for facilities that submitted data, 17% (142) claimed a Gold Recognition Award, while 22% (177) achieved Silver, and 27% (255) were awarded Bronze.