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HICprevent

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

Though frail residents lives at risk, nursing homes balk at providing worker flu shots

March 18th, 2015

More on cheap apathy in a minute, but first the award for most sensational Ebola headline on the pandemic raging across America (one case, hospitalized in isolation) goes to the UK’s Daily Mail for this Oct. 2, 2014 lurid beauty:

Up to 100 exposed already in Dallas Ebola shambles: Family tries to break out of isolation at virus victim's apartment where infected sheets still lie on the bed as visitors come and go

Close, but no zombies.

Here’s the real and really disturbing news of the day: Long-term care continues to lag in influenza immunization – despite the risk to vulnerable elderly residents. Only 54% of nurses’ aides in long-term care facilities reported that they received the flu vaccine in 2013-2014, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 43% of long-term care workers said their employers didn’t promote or require the vaccine, and 73% said flu vaccination wasn’t available on-site.

“It’s distressing that administrators of those facilities don’t provide the vaccine on site for free,” says William Schaffner, MD, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “Those are such elementary aspects of health care worker influenza immunization. I was stunned when I read that, frankly.”

Public health authorities and infection control organizations will likely place a new focus on long-term care, he says. Public reporting may eventually be on tap, as well.

“All the things that appear to be working in hospitals should apply to long term care facilities,” he says.

--Michele Marill

For more on this story see the November 2014 issue of Hospital Employee Health