Mandatory healthcare flu vaccination works

Jan. 29, 2010 at 3:16 PM
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ST. LOUIS, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The influenza vaccination rate among some healthcare workers rose to 98 percent after it became mandatory, a U.S. medical researcher says.

Dr. Hilary Babcock of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis looked at how a 2008 mandatory swine flu vaccination policy impacted BJC Health Care -- a multi-hospital healthcare system in the Midwest with about 26,000 employees.

Babcock says influenza vaccination rates for previous years had been 71 percent in 2007 and 54 percent in 2006. This was despite the system offering free vaccination programs, extensive education and other incentives.

"Mandatory programs work and can be implemented at large healthcare facilities or systems successfully," Babcock says in a statement. "Staff influenza vaccination rates are being discussed as a possible patient safety indicator that could be used for accreditation or public reporting, which would increase the likelihood of more programs developing mandatory policies."

The study, published in Clinical Infectious Disease, found 411 employees were granted medical and religious exemptions. Eight workers who were not vaccinated or granted exemptions were terminated for not complying with the policy, the study said.

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