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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

New Data Out on Hospital Personnel Flu Vaccinations

New Data Out on Hospital Personnel Flu Vaccinations

September 20, 2013

The MA Department of Public Health yesterday released its latest data on the rates of influenza vaccination among hospital personnel for the 2012/2013 flu season. Hospital personnel includes all staff (including per diem staff), students and volunteers. You can find the data on these DPH tables (pdf). The findings were presented and discussed yesterday at a meeting of DPH’s Healthcare-Associated Infections Technical Advisory Group (HAI TAG), on which HCFA has a seat.  The data include statewide aggregate numbers, numbers by region, hospital type, and size, and numbers for each hospital.

The data show a wide variation in terms of percentage of personnel vaccinated. While the median is 85% (meaning half of the hospitals reported that at least 85% of their personnel were vaccinated), the range goes from 47% to 99% of personnel vaccinated.

What drives the hospitals to the higher percentages? There are a number of factors, to be sure, but one that has seen success (not surprisingly) is when a hospital mandates that personnel get vaccinated. Of the 9 hospitals that reported vaccinations of at least 95% of their personnel, at least 6 of them mandate vaccination (according to attendees at yesterday’s HAI TAG meeting). The 9 hospitals at the top are: Anna Jacques Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Kindred Boston, Leahy Clinic, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Sturdy Memorial, and Tufts Medical Center.

As consumers, it is really hard to understand why anyone who works in a setting where you are caring for sick and vulnerable individuals would choose not to get vaccinated. You are protecting others from getting sick (or sicker) and you are protecting yourself from catching the flu from a patient. We have heard some of the arguments, for example that the vaccine does not always give 100% protection…. well, some protection seems a lot wiser than no protection!

If you are a patient, family member, or community member of one of the hospitals with a lower vaccination rate, speak up and ask that institution what it is doing to raise the rate. It would be fantastic to see more hospitals follow the lead of those that have mandated vaccination as a condition of employment.

Also discussed at yesterday’s meeting was the upcoming DPH report on healthcare-associated infection at hospitals. We posted a blog in June when DPH released 6 months’ worth of preliminary data. The next set of data should be released by the end of this month, according to DPH staff at the meeting. Keep an eye out for a blog post once the data is released.
-Deb Wachenheim