ALBANY, N.Y., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Influenza vaccination for all healthcare personnel is the most important tool available to prevent the flu spreading in medical sites, a New York official says.
Dr. Nirav R. Shah, commissioner of health of the state of New York, said during last year's influenza season the average influenza vaccination rate for healthcare personnel in New York hospitals was 48 percent, and the rate for long-term care facilities was 44 percent -- far below the 90 percent recommended by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.
"Vaccination not only helps to assure patient safety in healthcare settings, but also benefits healthcare personnel and their family members," Shah said in a letter to state healthcare facilities. "The New York state Department of Health encourages you to review your facility's policies and procedures to ensure that influenza vaccination is promoted and made readily accessible free-of-charge for all healthcare personnel working in your facilities."
Shah said strategies employed to improve healthcare personnel vaccination include:
-- Offering vaccination at work and during work hours on all three shifts
-- Using a mobile cart to deliver vaccine to staff.
-- Requiring personnel not wishing to be vaccinated to sign declination forms to acknowledge that they have been educated about the benefits and risks of vaccination or to wear face masks during work hours for the duration of the influenza season.