As someone who works in the healthcare industry, you might question why healthcare workers are so strongly targeted for flu vaccinations. After all, healthcare workers make up less than four percent of the country’s population. Therefore, concentrating on vaccinating such a small group may seem like a drop-in-the-bucket when we take a look at the total number of annual flu cases. However, a recent study, presented in June 2014 at the 41st Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), showed a strong correlation between the number of healthcare worker flu vaccinations and the health of the community.
The study analyzed data from the California Department of Health to determine “the relationship between vaccinating healthcare personnel against influenza and the rate of influenza-like illness in the surrounding community.” The results indicated for every 15 hospital workers vaccinated for flu, there is one less case of flu-like illness in the community.
Let’s consider the impact of the study’s results on the general population if the number of healthcare workers vaccinated increased nationwide. The U.S. Department of Labor indicates there are approximately 12 million healthcare personnel in the U.S. (includes practitioners and support occupations). Using the results of the study, if 90% (the current goal set by HHS, TJC, and CDC) of those healthcare workers were to receive annual flu vaccinations, the 15:1 indicated ratio would result in 720,000 community members not contracting flu-like illnesses each year.
Healthcare workers play vital roles in the lives of those at higher risk for flu complications such as the very young, the very old and those with suppressed immune systems. People seek medical attention when they are at their most vulnerable. Healthcare workers are not only at an increased risk of contracting the flu, they are also more likely to spread it to others.
Think about it. Seeking medical attention is rarely just a doctor/patient experience.  As few as two to as many as 70 individuals could come into contact with a single patient in a healthcare setting during treatment. From admittance to discharge, whether it’s in a hospital or another type of facility, people other than doctors perform a myriad of tasks including taking vitals, performing testing, offering consultations, completing procedures and providing follow-up instruction.
The good news is healthcare workers and the organizations they work for are getting the message. Many healthcare facilities across the country are requiring their clinical and administrative staff to get vaccinated and are submitting their vaccination rates to the CDC. While the flu vaccination rate among adults 18 to 64 years of age in the United States has increased only a meager 1.8% over the last four years, the flu vaccination rate for healthcare workers has increased 11.7% over the same time frame. IntellliCentrics can help. We provide a simple, accurate way for facilities to track the flu vaccination rates with the ReptraxTM vendor credentialing system or SE3CURETM, the first all-in-one credentialing and privileging system.
Getting a flu shot is one of the easiest ways you can create a safer and more secure environment for your patients as well as have a positive impact on their well-being. In fact, far from a drop-in-the-bucket, your flu vaccination and those of your coworkers create a tidal wave of health for your entire community.

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