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CA Hospital Flu Vax Rate Edges Up

News  |  By Doug Desjardins  
   January 10, 2017

More than 84% of healthcare workers in the state got a flu shot during the 2015-2016 influenza season.

This story originally appeared in California Healthfax.

report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) shows that 85.4% of hospital employees received flu vaccines during the 2015-2016 flu season, a slight increase from 85% during the 2014-2015 season.

However, vaccination rates for non-employee healthcare personnel edged lower, at 66.1% compared to 66.4% in 2014-2015. The rate for volunteers and workers at hospitals was 78%, up from 77.2% in 2014-2015.

The report also found that 154 hospitals—or about 40% of hospitals in the state—reported employee vaccination rates that were higher than 90%. State health officials have established a 2020 Healthy People goal of having 90% of all hospital workers receive flu vaccines.

The rate of hospital employees receiving flu shots has started to flatten after rising sharply for several years. CDPH data shows the percentage of hospital workers receiving flu shots jumped from 67.8% of employees in 2011-2012 to 74% in 2012-2013 and to 81% in 2013-2014.

During that time, dozens of counties adopted mask policies that require employees who choose to not be vaccinated to wear a surgical mask at work during flu season.

Mask Policies Drive Higher Flu Vax Rates

The CDPH report found that 34 counties now have mask policies in place in hospitals, an increase from 31 counties during the 2014-2015 flu season. The report found that vaccination rates in counties with mask policies was 3 percentage points higher than in counties without mask policies and suggested that “local public health policy may be influencing vaccination coverage in California hospitals.”

The CDPH survey included responses from 316 hospitals in the state. Ninety-two percent of hospitals surveyed offer flu shots during all work shifts, including nights and weekends; and 79% provide flu vaccines using mobile carts that bring the vaccine to workers.

The survey also found that 96% of hospitals surveyed have mask policies for employees who choose to not be vaccinated.

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