Fewer LTC workers are getting their flu vaccines, report finds

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Fewer LTC workers are getting their flu vaccines, report finds
Fewer LTC workers are getting their flu vaccines, report finds

While influenza vaccination rates among healthcare workers have increased overall, fewer long-term care facility employees are being vaccinated, a government survey has found. 

Employee vaccination rates in long-term care facilities fell from 64% in the 2010-2011 flu season to 52% during the 2011-2012 flu season, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey. Vaccination rates were highest among hospital physicians (87%) and hospital nurses (78%) during the same time period.

Higher vaccination rates during the 2011-2012 season were associated with employer vaccine requirements, employer promotion of vaccinations and vaccinations offered at no cost over multiple days. The agency noted vaccinations are particularly important in long-term care facilities because elderly residents are at a higher risk for flu-related complications. 

Survey respondents said there were three primary objections: a belief that the vaccine is not needed; concerns about the vaccine's effectiveness; and concern about possible side effects, according to the agency.

Although there is strong regulatory support for mandating flu vaccination for healthcare workers, long-term care groups have been reluctant to endorse the idea.

To increase vaccination coverage in nursing homes, the CDC recommends that each facility should develop  “a comprehensive intervention strategy that includes education and promotion to encourage vaccination and easy access to vaccine at no cost.” 



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