Education and Incentives Key to Flu Vaccine Compliance
By Patricia Howell, Clinical Support Manager, McKesson Medical-Surgical
It’s the start of flu season.
Your organization has likely already begun to encourage patients to get vaccinated and may have implemented wellness strategies, such as hand sanitizer, and face masks to be used by coughing visitors. But what are you doing to address the annual challenge of getting your own employees to get flu shots to protect themselves and, more importantly, patients and residents?
A proactive and positive approach – with a combination of education and incentives – tends to work best to overcome this seasonal and often sensitive topic.
Last flu season, less than two-thirds of all health care workers – 64.3 percent – got flu shots, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By facility setting, the percentage was highest at hospitals, where 78.7 percent of workers were vaccinated. Where was it lowest? Nursing homes, where only 54.4 percent of the staff got flu shots. Those numbers, particularly the nursing homes, are way too low.
In recent years, it’s estimated that between 80 percent and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older. This is a very serious population health issue for long term care facilities since flu mortality is very preventable.
Some states have mandated flu vaccines for health care workers, as have thousands of health care facilities across the country, as a condition of employment. At other facilities, employees who don’t get flu shots are often required to wear surgical masks to protect against the spread of the flu virus. Yet the staff flu vaccination rates numbers still lag. So what can be done to encourage higher staff participation?
Employee Education Should Address Barriers to Getting Flu Vaccines
2) They don’t need the vaccineOften, support staff doesn’t think that they need the vaccine because they don’t see themselves as healthcare providers. However, if they are coming into contact with residents or patients, it is critical support staff be vaccinated. Health care facilities can provide educational packets and ongoing educational programming to address both of these issues. Start early and utilize department heads and staff leaders to spread the word. [Related: Flu Prevention Resources for Long Term Care]
Three Ways Healthcare Facilities Can Incentivize Workers to Get Flu Vaccines
About the Author
Patricia Howell, RN, BSN, Clinical Support Manager, McKesson Medical-Surgical
Patricia Howell graduated with a BSN from the University of Phoenix. Her skills and work experience includes facility and corporate level positions in Nursing Homes, Sub-acute Care Centers, Assisted Living and Home Care, as well as having her own business serving elders and the long term care community. Patricia is now one of the Clinical Support Managers on the McKesson Clinical Resource Team.
Unless otherwise noted, the recommendations in this document were obtained from the sources listed above. Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only and is not complete clinical information. This information is intended for use only by competent healthcare professionals exercising judgment in providing care. McKesson cannot be held responsible for the continued currency of or for any errors or omissions in the information.