Aiming to decrease hospital acquired infections

Nov. 13, 2019

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed approximately 675,000 people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While flu varies in severity, every year in the U.S., flu sickens millions, hospitalizes hundreds of thousands and kills tens of thousands.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities can help stop the spread of flu and protect their clinicians, staff, and patients by encouraging clinicians and staff to get a seasonal flu vaccine each year, which provides important protection against flu and its potentially serious consequences.

CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommend that all U.S. healthcare workers get vaccinated annually against influenza. Yet about one in five healthcare workers are not getting vaccinated to protect themselves – and their patients – from the morbidity and mortality associated with seasonal flu. More concerning, nearly one in three healthcare workers in long-term care settings, such as nursing homes, do not get their seasonal flu vaccinations.

Vaccinating healthcare workers helps prevent the spread of healthcare acquired flu infections, as recently emphasized in the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare Associated Infections. Hospital acquired cases of flu threaten everyday health, but they would also severely complicate treatment during a public health emergency.

In the event of a severe flu season, hospitals and healthcare facilities will need to surge to care for patients.

Increasing flu vaccination among healthcare workers decreases the incidence of healthcare worker absenteeism due to sickness or doctors' visits, and the likelihood that healthcare workers will infect or be infected by people who have come to their facilities seeking treatment. According to the CDC, vaccination rates among healthcare workers are highest when their workplaces require vaccination or offer on-site vaccination at low or no cost.

ASPR has the story.