47 Oklahoma hospitals meet 96% employee flu vaccination goal

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Forty-seven Oklahoma hospitals and specialty units completed a challenge issued by the Oklahoma Hospital Association to achieve an employee influenza vaccination rate of 96 percent or more in the 2017-18 flu season, according to Tahlequah Daily Press.

OHA's Council on Quality and Patient Safety started the employee vaccination challenge for hospitals during the 2012-13 flu season. While the goal was to initially vaccinate 90 percent of a hospital's staff members, the goal was raised to 96 percent due to the initiative's success. For the 2016-17 flu season, 43 hospitals met this goal.

 The flu has caused 9.2 million to 35.6 million illnesses, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths annually since 2010, according to the CDC estimates.

The American Hospital Association, along with other national professional organizations, endorse mandatory flu vaccination policies for healthcare employees. Many hospitalized patients are vulnerable to flu due to their often compromised immune systems. Vaccinating healthcare employees has shown to prevent illness and death in patients and reduce influenza and absenteeism among Healthcare Providers.

"[T]he risk of complications from influenza is higher among the types of people who are admitted to our hospitals," LaWanna Halstead, vice president of quality and clinical initiatives at the Oklahoma Hospital Association, told Tahlequah Daily Press. "These hospitals have developed policies and processes that ensure their patients are protected. Several of these hospitals actually went above and beyond the challenge and met vaccination rates of 100 percent."

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