Thursday, April 24, 2014
By LINDSEY TANNER The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Bill Staples, a Mississippi Department of Health employee, is given a flu vaccine shot by registered nurse Rosemary Jones, also with the health department, in Jackson, Miss., last fall. A survey by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found that in 2011, more than 400 U.S. hospitals required flu vaccinations for their employees and 29 hospitals fired employees that were not vaccinated against the virus.
2012 file photo/The Associated Press
According to the most recent federal data, about 63 percent of U.S. health care workers had flu shots as of November. That's up from previous years, but the government wants 90 percent coverage of health care workers by 2020.
The highest rate, about 88 percent, was among pharmacists, followed by doctors at 84 percent, and nurses, 82 percent. Fewer than half of nursing assistants and aides are vaccinated, the CDC's Bridges said.
Some hospitals have achieved 90 percent but many fall short. A government health advisory panel has urged those below 90 percent to consider a mandatory program.
Also, the accreditation body over hospitals requires them to offer flu vaccines to workers, and those failing to do that and improve vaccination rates could lose accreditation.
Starting this year, the government's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is requiring hospitals to report employees' flu vaccination rates as a means to boost the rates, Bridges said. Eventually the data will be posted on the agency's "Hospital Compare" website.
Several leading doctor groups support mandatory flu shots for workers. And the American Medical Association in November endorsed mandatory shots for those with direct patient contact in nursing homes; elderly patients are particularly vulnerable to flu-related complications.