A healthcare worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine dose

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to adopt a new quality tracker to keep tabs on influenza vaccination among healthcare personnel in skilled nursing facilities. 

The proposed Influenza Vaccination Coverage among Healthcare Personnel measure already exists as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measure for reporting on vaccination uptake in healthcare workers. If adopted for skilled nursing facilities, facilities would report data through the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network. An initial data submission period would run from Oct. 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023.

Influenza coverage low

Residents are known to be at high risk of contracting influenza and healthcare staff can be a vector for spreading the illness. There is a relatively low level of vaccination among nursing home staff when compared with other U.S. healthcare personnel overall. Tracking the number of vaccinated staff members could help to increase vaccination rates and keep residents safe, CMS stated in a fact sheet released Monday.

“[W]e believe the proposed measure has the potential to increase influenza vaccination coverage in SNFs, promote patient safety and increase the transparency of quality of care in the SNF setting,” it stated. 

The flu vaccine tracking proposal is included as part of the agency’s SNF Quality Reporting Program under a newly announced, proposed rule that would update Medicare payment policies and rates for skilled nursing facilities for fiscal year 2023.

Staff flu vax stats

In the 2020-2021 flu season, approximately 66% of healthcare workers in long-term care facilities received a flu vaccination (home healthcare personnel were included in that estimate). This compares to 76% of  healthcare personnel overall, according to the CDC.

Nursing home residents, meanwhile, had 71% vaccination coverage for the same season, according to CMS Minimum Data Set reporting.

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