Jackson County Memorial Hospital recently surpassed the challenge from the Oklahoma Hospital Association to achieve a health care worker influenza vaccination rate of 92 percent or higher during the 2013-2014 flu season. JCMH obtained a 97% overall rate of employee vaccinations.
“Influenza is associated with 36,000 deaths per year and the risk of complications from influenza is higher among the types of people who are admitted to our hospitals,” said LaWanna Halstead, vice president of quality and clinical initiatives, Oklahoma Hospital Association. “These hospitals have stepped up in ensuring that their patients are protected and a number are joining a trend of hospitals nationwide in instituting mandatory vaccination policies. Many of these hospitals actually went above and beyond the challenge and met vaccination rates well above 92 percent.”
Hospitalized patients are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of influenza because their immune systems are often compromised by the illness that caused their admission or by the treatments they are undergoing. Vaccination of health care workers (HCWs) has been shown to prevent illness and death in patients and reduce influenza and absenteeism among HCWs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended annual vaccination of HCWs since 1984.
Several key national professional organizations have endorsed mandatory policies for influenza vaccination as a condition of employment within health care facilities, including the American Hospital Association. In 2011, the Oklahoma Hospital Association board of trustees developed a position statement urging mandatory influenza policies.