SMC Recognized for Flu Vaccinations

March 14, 2012


Springhill Medical Center’s participation in the Joint Commission Resources’ (JCR) Flu Vaccination Challenge was recognized with a Bronze Recognition Award for increasing the number of participants.  SMC has participated in this national program to increase flu vaccination rates among health care workers for 30 years in an ongoing effort to raise its flu vaccination rate among staff. During the 2010-11 flu season, SMC achieved a staff vaccination rate of 80 percent among health care workers. Springhill aims to further increase that number during the current flu season.

 

Beth Beck, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Springhill Medical Center, said that this recognition shows the progress the hospital is making.

For the 2010-11 flu season, JCR challenged Springhill Medical Center and other health care organizations across the country to achieve seasonal flu vaccination rates of 75, 85 or 95 percent among their staff to attain a Bronze, Silver or Gold Recognition Award, respectively. Of the organizations that submitted data (n=826), two thirds (66 percent) met the challenge by achieving a 75 percent or higher seasonal flu vaccination rate among staff. Seventeen percent achieved a Gold vaccination level, 22 percent achieved a Silver vaccination level, and 27 percent achieved a Bronze vaccination level.  With help from the Flu Vaccination Challenge, approximately 780,000 health care workers across the country were vaccinated against the flu, including 978 health care workers at SMC.

 

Flu vaccination of health care workers is important not only to help protect themselves, but also to reduce the likelihood that patients or the individuals served will be exposed to the flu. The current national flu vaccination average among health care workers is nearly 64 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Influenza vaccination of adults has shown to be cost-effective by reducing both direct medical costs and indirect costs from absenteeism. Several studies demonstrated that the vaccination of adults less than 65 years of age resulted in fewer healthcare provider visits, fewer lost workdays, fewer days working with reduced effectiveness, and a decrease in antibiotic use.

 

The flu is a contagious and potentially deadly infection. Flu viruses are mainly spread from person to person via droplets from coughing or sneezing. Transmission may also occur through direct or indirect contact, such as when touching something already laden with the flu virus, then touching the eyes, nose or mouth. Every year in the United States, between 5 and 20 percent of the population may become infected with the flu. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for respiratory and heart illnesses associated with seasonal flu infections. Additionally, over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of approximately 3,000 to a high of approximately 49,000 people.

 

According to the CDC, annual flu vaccination is the most effective method for preventing flu virus infection and its complications. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual flu vaccination for all individuals 6 months of age and older. While flu vaccination benefits all age groups, certain people have a higher risk for flu complications, such as individuals 50 years of age and older and people with chronic medical conditions. It is important that these people and those in close contact with them – including all health care personnel – continue to be a primary focus for vaccination efforts.

 

Joint Commission Resources (JCR), a not-for-profit affiliate of The Joint Commission, launched the Flu Vaccination Challenge during the 2008-09 flu season to help increase flu vaccination among health care workers.  Now entering its fourth year, JCR continues to challenge health care organizations to achieve at least a 75 percent flu vaccination rate among staff during this flu season. The 2011-12 Flu Vaccination Challenge will continue through spring 2012.  Health care organizations can visit FluVaccinationChallenge.com to participate in this year’s Challenge and find additional resources.

Funding and other editorial support for the Flu Vaccination Challenge has been provided to JCR by GlaxoSmithKline.