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Flu Season is upon us

It’s Flu Season and Vaccination is a Measure of Quality for Patients, Family Caregivers and for Your Staff.

The coming of Fall each year is also the announcement of flu vaccination season.  For home health providers, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare settings the vaccination of patients is a measure of quality as it is a measure of provider participation to improving population health.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Sep 28, 2017 that last season's flu vaccine was estimated to have prevented more than 5.4M flu cases, 2.7 million doctor visits and 86,000 hospitalizations. Note that hospitalizations for flu in the 2016-17 season were nearly double that of 2015-16; with higher rates across all age groups, according to the CDC. Your staff’s recommendation to patients and their caregivers in the home to be vaccinated is one of the most significant factors in increasing vaccination.  For family caregivers and all families who may visit with the upcoming holiday season, it is important to understand the risk to the patient who may be immunocompromised.

Flu vaccination is also important for your staff, not solely due to lost days of work, but also for patients and their families. The CDC also presented that immunization among health care staff was 78% in flu season 2016-2017. However, the most likely health profession to be immunized were doctors!  95.8% of physicians were immunized and this pattern has been the same since 2011. The next highest rate is pharmacists, followed by physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners. Staff in hospitals have the highest rate at 92%, with the lowest in nursing homes/SNFs at 63%; and in community settings….75%! Make that rate your goal for your organization. Remind folks that prevention is a covered benefit under their insurance. While retail pharmacy remains an easy access point for staff access, the CDC also states that among organizations that offer free flu vaccine for one day the average vaccination rate is 73%, if offered for > 1 day it is 80% of staff.

Unless contraindicated, supporting flu vaccination access for your patients/clients and their family caregiver, as well as to your staff is a demonstrable commitment to quality care.

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