BALTIMORE, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Making seasonal flu vaccinations for hospital staff free, convenient and hard to ignore succeeds in increasing the flu shot rate, U.S. researchers found.
A study, published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, found the rate of seasonal flu vaccination for the 2008-09 season among healthcare workers at the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore medical campus, including The Johns Hopkins Hospital, was double the national average.
Senior study investigator Dr. Edward Bernacki, director of occupational health, safety and environment at Johns Hopkins, said he was surprised to find so many staff chose to get vaccinated elsewhere such as drug or grocery stores.
"It was promising to learn that so many staff were getting vaccinated elsewhere, as opposed to what we had been thinking, which was that they were not getting vaccinated at all," Bernacki said in a statement.
The higher vaccination rate may have also been influenced by the hospital's policy requiring employees working in patient clinics who chose not to get vaccinated to wear a face mask at work.
Hospital surveys have shown barely a quarter of all U.S. hospital workers get vaccinated, but 42 percent of those providing direct patient care get vaccinated.