Tuesday, April 10, 2012

UDOH Releases Influenza Vaccination Rates of Hospital Healthcare Workers

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A new online report will make it easier for Utahns to find vaccination information about healthcare workers employed in licensed* Utah hospitals. The report was developed by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) in collaboration with members of the Utah Healthcare Infection Prevention (UHIP) Governance Committee.** This tool will allow Utahns to compare influenza vaccination rates for healthcare workers among licensed hospitals in Utah.

The initial report will list all licensed Utah hospitals, along with their influenza vaccination rates for hospital healthcare workers, for the 2011-2012 influenza season on the UDOH Healthcare Associated Infections website at http://health.utah.gov/epi/HAI/data.html. Thereafter, the influenza vaccination reports will be published annually.

“Increasing influenza vaccination among healthcare workers is an essential part of a comprehensive patient safety program,” said Robert Rolfs, M.D., Deputy Director, UDOH. Unvaccinated healthcare workers are at risk for infection when working with patients who may carry influenza. Most important, if they become sick with influenza acquired at work or elsewhere, they can spread that infection to their patients who
are often the most vulnerable to serious complications of influenza.

Publicly releasing hospital influenza vaccination rates is an important step in creating transparency for healthcare safety and quality in Utah. 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 (Rule‐386‐705, Epidemiology, Healthcare Associated Infection). This rule 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 71.7 percent in 2008 to 93.8 percent in 2011.

In April 2011, the UHIP Governance Committee recommended that all healthcare delivery facilities in Utah implement a policy of mandatory 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 such programs in place. Healthcare organizations that do not have an effective healthcare worker influenza vaccination policy in place are strongly encouraged to begin preparations now for the 2012-2013 influenza season.

*Licensed hospitals include: acute care, long-term acute care, critical access, rehabilitation, psychiatric, government and children’s hospitals.

**The Utah Healthcare Infection Prevention Governance Committee is a multi-disciplinary panel of state leaders in patient safety, infectious diseases, and infection control. Membership is comprised from a broad base of care delivery groups across the State and organized under and staffed by the Utah Department of Health.

Visit http://health.utah.gov/epi/HAI/goverance_committee.html for more information about UHIP Governance Committee members.
Media Contact:Rebecca L. Ward
(o) 801-538-6681
(c) 801-647-5421