October 7, 2015
Pharmacists Have Highest Rates of Influenza
Immunization in Healthcare

Atlanta—Pharmacists have the highest rate of influenza vaccine coverage among medical professionals, according to the CDC, which is seeking to increase immunization rates among all healthcare workers.

Annual flu vaccines are recommended for healthcare personnel (HCP) by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. To determine the success of the campaign for the 2014-15 influenza season, the CDC conducted an opt-in Internet panel survey of 1,914 HCPs from March 31 to April 15, 2015.

Results were reported recently in the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Of HCPs responding to the survey, 77.3% said they had received an influenza vaccination during the 2014-15 season, similar to the 75.2% coverage reported for the 2013-14 season.

By occupation, coverage was highest among pharmacists—at 95.3%—and lowest among assistants and aides; just 64.4% of this group said they had been vaccinated.

Hospital workers reported a 90.4% immunization rate, compared to long-term-care employees with a 63.9% rate. The coverage rate was 96% for HCPs in settings where their employer required flu vaccines.

For healthcare staffers who were not required to be vaccinated, the CDC found coverage to be higher when vaccination was offered on-site at no cost for one day (73.6%) or multiple days (83.9%) but lowest among HCP working where vaccines were neither required, promoted, nor offered on-site (44.0%).

The opt-in Internet panel survey was conducted for the CDC by Abt Associates, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, enlisting professional participants from the current membership roster of Medscape. HCPs in other occupations—such as assistants, aides, and nonclinical personnel such as administrators, clerical support workers, janitors, food service workers, and housekeepers—were recruited from Survey Sampling International, which provides panel members with online survey opportunities in exchange for nominal incentives.

Respondents were recruited through e-mails and messages on the list or panel websites and were eligible for the survey if they reported working in at least one of eight healthcare settings or reported any patient contact. The survey had a 97.3% completion rate.

Compared to the previous year, rates of vaccination improved the most among pharmacists (95.3% vs. 85.7%), assistants/aides (64.4% vs. 57.7%), and nonclinical personnel (75.2% vs. 68.6%). Coverage among other clinical personnel decreased from 87.4% in 2013-14 to 81.3% in 2014-15, but remained similar for other occupation types.

Another change was in the percentage of HCP required to be immunized. “Overall, 40.1% of surveyed HCP were required to be vaccinated against influenza, an increase from 20.9% in the 2011–12 season,” the CDC said, adding, “Higher vaccination coverage and increased use of vaccination requirements and promotion in hospitals compared with other settings might be partly attributable to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirement in place since January 2013 to report HCP influenza vaccination levels as part of its hospital quality reporting programs.”

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