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Washington state hospitals lead U.S. with flu vaccine policies
The Washington State Hospital Association announced today that MultiCare Health System’s four hospitals are among 94 hospitals in Washington state that have adopted policies that are dramatically increasing the number of hospital workers who are immunized against the flu.
Ninety-four out of the 98 hospitals in Washington state have adopted policies that require their health care workers to either get immunized against the flu or take another patient protective action as determined by the hospital’s infection control program. Included are MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, MultiCare Allenmore Hospital and MultiCare Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center.
Washington is the first state in the nation where nearly all hospitals have jointly adopted flu immunization policies. The hospitals that save adopted the policies operate 99 percent of inpatient hospital beds in Washington state. The policies are currently being implemented across the state, and will be in effect this fall and winter during the flu season.
“Even when health care workers feel fine, they can actually be getting the flu and can transmit the virus to their patients, their co-workers, and their families. Studies show a high percentage of health care workers continue working with influenza. A big step to stamping out influenza transmission in the hospital is to make sure our caregivers are vaccinated against it,” said John Fletcher, chairman of the hospital association’s Patient Safety Committee.
Voluntary flu immunization campaigns have resulted in immunization rates below 50 percent for health care workers across the country. The board of trustees of the Washington State Hospital Association urged the association to take aggressive action to dramatically increase the number of hospital staff immunized and, as a result, to stop the spread of influenza in Washington’s hospitals. This year’s near-universal adoption of flu vaccination programs is the result.
Hospitals are making it easy to get vaccinated, providing vaccine free of charge and offering immunization clinics on every shift and roving vaccine carts. Alternate actions unvaccinated workers may be asked to take to protect patients include wearing a mask while working with patients, being re-assigned to non-patient care duties, or being sent home from work during an influenza outbreak.
Several hospitals in Washington state, including MultiCare Health System, have instituted similar policies in recent years. The results have been remarkable, with significant increases in the number of vaccinated health care workers
Washington’s immunization program is receiving strong support:
“The Washington State Medical Association supports the Washington State Hospital Association’s commitment to decrease morbidity from flu by encouraging immunization in their work force and implementing infection prevention activities; and encourages all Washington physicians to receive appropriate and timely influenza vaccination and to encourage their office staff and patients likewise to receive such immunization.” – Washington State Medical Association Resolution
“Influenza is a very dangerous illness in our country and kills tens of thousands of people each year. Hospital patients are particularly vulnerable to being seriously harmed or even killed by the flu. Immunization is a proven strategy to stop influenza transmission, and the CDC urges all health care workers to get their flu shots annually.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Health care workers, including doctors and nurses, have a responsibility to get a flu shot each year to prevent infecting their patients. It is shocking that many of them don’t. That is why Consumers Union supports requiring immunization as the first line of defense against spreading the flu bug and we support Washington hospitals’ efforts to ensure all health care workers are immunized.” – Lisa McGiffert, Stop Hospital Infections campaign manager, Consumers Union
See a list of hospitals participating in the flu vaccination campaign.
Read the full implementation toolkit including journal articles supporting vaccination.
Posted on Nov 9, 2010 in