HCW Flu Vaccination Rates Up 13% in Annual Challenge

Joint Commission Resources (JCR) announced the successful results of its second annual Flu Vaccination Challenge. Participating healthcare organizations reached a 76 percent flu vaccination average, a 13 percent increase over the average reported for last years challenge and 27 percent above the national average.1

For the 2009-2010 flu season, JCR challenged healthcare organizations across the country to achieve 90 percent, 75 percent or 65 percent gold, silver or bronze, respectively seasonal flu vaccination among their staff. Of the healthcare organizations that participated, 19 percent achieved a gold vaccination level,2 35 percent achieved a silver vaccination level,3 and 31 percent achieved a bronze vaccination level.4 With help from the Flu Vaccination Challenge, more than 1.1 million healthcare workers were vaccinated against the seasonal flu; a key measure toward reducing the risk of flu outbreaks in healthcare organizations.

"The Flu Vaccination Challenge showcases the ethical responsibility that healthcare workers have to protect themselves, their patients and their colleagues from influenza each year by taking the time to get vaccinated," says William Schaffner, MD, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "Protection against influenza is paramount in patient safety, as studies show that increased rates of healthcare worker vaccination correspond with a significant decrease in the incidence of healthcare-associated influenza."

JCR is raising the bar again for the programs third year, challenging healthcare organizations to raise their rate of vaccination to 95 percent, 85 percent or 75 percent among their staff. JCR will recognize organizations that "meet" the challenge with a gold, silver or bronze recognition award, respectively, for their dedication to helping keep their employees and patients healthy by vaccinating against the flu. To participate in this years challenge, healthcare organizations should visit www.FluVaccinationChallenge.com.

"The Flu Vaccination Challenge is an important initiative which has clearly gained momentum over these past two years," says Tom Talbot, MD, MPH, chief hospital epidemiologist and assistant professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and JCR Consultant. "We are very encouraged by the latest results and commend all of the organizations that participated in the challenge. We look forward to seeing vaccination rates continue to climb during this coming flu season."

Flu Vaccination Challenge Results: 2009-2010 Flu Season

Nearly 1,100 (n=1,083) healthcare organizations from across the United States participated in the Flu Vaccination Challenge. Of the organizations that submitted their data (n=855), 85 percent met "the Challenge" by achieving 65 percent or higher seasonal flu vaccination among their staff. Participating healthcare organizations reached a 76 percent flu vaccination average, surpassing both the national flu vaccination average1 and the total vaccination average of 63 percent reported from last years Challenge.

The 2010 Flu Vaccination Challenge begins today and will continue through April 2011. The 2010-2011 Challenge will measure vaccination coverage among healthcare workers that receive the seasonal flu vaccine, which will offer protection against the 2009 H1N1 flu strain. For additional details regarding the 2009-2010 results and for information on how healthcare organizations can help improve their flu vaccination coverage, visit www.FluVaccinationChallenge.com.

The flu is a contagious and potentially deadly infection. Flu viruses are mainly spread from person to person via droplets from coughing or sneezing. Transmission may also occur through direct or indirect contact, such as when touching something already laden with the flu virus, then touching the eyes, nose or mouth. Every year in the United States, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the population may become infected with the flu. On average, more than 200,000 hospitalizations occurred each year from 1979 to 2001 in the United States as a result of flu-related complications. Additionally, on average, approximately 36,000 persons died each year from 1990-1999 from flu-related causes; more than 90 percent of these deaths occurred among persons 65 years of age and older.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), annual flu vaccination is the most effective method for preventing flu virus infection and its complications. For the 2010-2011 flu season, the CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) expanded its recommendation for annual flu vaccination to include all people aged 6 months and older. While flu vaccination benefits all age groups, certain people have a higher risk for flu complications, such as adults aged 65 and older and people with chronic medical conditions. ACIP recommends that these people and those in close contact with them, including all healthcare personnel, continue to be a primary focus for vaccination efforts.

Joint Commission Resources (JCR) is a not-for-profit affiliate of The Joint Commission. JCR received funding and other editorial support from GlaxoSmithKline for the Flu Vaccination Challenge initiative.

References

1. Results from a national survey during the 2007/2008 influenza season

2. Gold vaccination rate = 90 percent or higher

3. Silver vaccination rate = 75-89 percent

4. Bronze vaccination rate = 65-74 percent

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