Making it easier for employees to get free flu vaccinations on site—and requiring vaccinations—has helped bump up coverage, according to an online survey conducted for the CDC.
Of 2,316 health care personnel who responded, 79% reported having gotten a flu shot for the 2015-2016 season, up 15.5 percentage points from the 2010-2011 estimate but similar to the 77.3% coverage for 2014-2015.
Physicians are most likely to get vaccinated (95.6%), whereas assistants and aides have the lowest coverage, although it was well above half (64.1%). Nurse practitioners and physician assistants also had a high rate of vaccination (90.3%), followed by nurses (90.1%) and pharmacists (86.5%), and Allied health professionals/technicians/technologists (84.7%).
Coverage among staff in long-term care settings was up—from 63.9% in 2014-2015 to 69.2% for 2015-2016—but still consistently lower than the coverage in hospitals and ambulatory care. Coverage in those settings was similar in both seasons. Employer requirements “likely contributed” to the gradual increase in vaccination among health care staff in settings with lowest coverage, the researchers say.
In facilities where vaccination was required, coverage was nearly total (96.5%). But only 61% of health care personnel work in hospitals with vaccination requirements—and that’s at least 27 percentage points higher than the proportion in any other work setting, the researchers say. Aides and assistants reported the lowest prevalence of vaccination requirements (22.5%).
Next to requirements, cost influenced vaccination response. The majority of vaccinated health care staff got the shots at their workplace. Coverage was highest when free vaccination was available on-site for a day or more.
To boost vaccination among long-term care staff, the CDC and the National Vaccine Program Office offer a web-based tool kit that includes access to resources, strategies, and educational material (www.cdc/gov/flu/toolkit/long-term-care/index.htm). Employers and health care administrators can also check out the Guide to Community Preventive Services , which presents evidence to support on-site vaccination at no or low cost.
Black CL, Yue X, Ball SW, et al. MMWR. 2016;65(38):1026-1031.