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Salt Lake City — If you hope to avoid getting the flu as a result of visiting a hospital, there’s a new tool in your arsenal. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has released the annual Healthcare Worker (HCW) Influenza Vaccination Coverage Report for HCWs in licensed Utah hospitals. The report was developed by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) in partnership with Utah Healthcare Infection Prevention Governance Committee (UHIP GC). Using this report, Utahns will be able to compare influenza vaccination rates for healthcare workers among licensed hospitals in Utah.
The report lists all reporting licensed Utah hospitals, along with their influenza vaccination rates for hospital HCWs, for the 2012-2013 influenza season. It is available on the UDOH Healthcare Associated Infections website at http://health.utah.gov/epi/HAI/data.html.
“Influenza vaccination among healthcare workers reduces patient infections and death and is an essential part of a comprehensive patient safety program,” said Allyn Nakashima, state epidemiologist a UDOH. “Unvaccinated healthcare workers put themselves at risk for infection when working with patients who may be ill with influenza. More importantly, if a healthcare worker becomes sick with influenza, they can spread that infection to their patients who are often the most vulnerable to serious complications of influenza.”
The UDOH and the UHIP GC agree that influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel is a critical patient safety practice that should be required in all healthcare facilities, unless an organization has achieved a vaccination rate greater than 95 percent by other means.
Patients should reasonably expect that they will not contract potentially life-threatening illnesses such as influenza from their healthcare providers while being treated for other conditions.
In November 2007, the UDOH adopted a Healthcare Associated Infections reporting rule that requires that hospitals report healthcare worker influenza vaccination rates. Results have shown that healthcare worker influenza vaccination rates in Utah hospitals have consistently increased, from 75.5 percent in 2008 to 94.8 percent in 2013.
In April 2011, the UHIP GC recommended that all healthcare delivery facilities in Utah implement a policy of compulsory annual influenza vaccination for all healthcare personnel. While the Utah hospitals are not required to have mandatory influenza vaccination programs for healthcare workers, some Utah healthcare facilities have compulsory programs in place. Healthcare organizations that do not have an effective healthcare worker influenza vaccination policy are strongly encouraged to develop one.