Study: Hospital Worker Flu Vaccine Rates Tied to Community Rates

For every 15 healthcare providers who receive the flu vaccine, there is one fewer case of the flu in the community, according to a study of California public health data from 2009- 2012.

A researcher analyzed data to determine the relationship between giving healthcare workers the flu vaccine and the rate of influenza-like illnesses in the area. For the 2011-2012 flu season, 68 percent of California hospital workers were vaccinated. But if that rate were 90 percent, there would be roughly 30,000 fewer cases of influenza-like illness in the state.

"This study suggests that there is a strong connection between how many healthcare personnel are vaccinated against the flu and how many cases of influenza-like illnesses are reported in the community," said James F. Marx, PhD, RN, investigator and founder of Broad Street Solutions, an infection prevention consultancy, in a news release. "More research would be helpful to further understand the impact of vaccinating healthcare workers on community influenza rates."

The study's results add another dimension to efforts to promote vaccinating healthcare personnel against the flu. "Efforts to promote influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel have traditionally focused on protecting patients inside healthcare facilities. Now we have evidence that through enhanced healthcare worker vaccination, we can protect the broader community," said Jennie Mayfield, BSN, MPH, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, in the release. "This represents a tremendous public health opportunity."

The study's abstract will be presented June 7 at APIC's 41st Annual Conference.

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