A recent study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reveals that influenza vaccination coverage among healthcare personnel (HCP) in acute care hospitals has declined in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has long recommended annual influenza vaccination for HCP to minimize morbidity and mortality associated with the infection.
The study, which analyzed HCP influenza coverage data reported to the CDC’s National Health Care Safety Network, found that during the six influenza seasons from 2017 to 2023, the overall pooled vaccination coverage among HCP was 85.8%. However, the researchers observed a significant decline in HCP vaccination rates after the COVID-19 pandemic. In the pre-pandemic seasons, the annual influenza vaccination coverage averaged around 90%, but in the seasons following the pandemic, it dropped to approximately 81%.
Specific HCP roles also influenced vaccination rates, with licensed independent practitioners having lower coverage compared to other groups. Additionally, HCP in suburban areas were more likely to be vaccinated than those in rural areas.
The researchers speculate that the decrease in HCP influenza vaccination coverage can be attributed to several factors. First, individuals may have prioritized COVID-19 vaccination over influenza vaccination once the former became available. This shifting focus may have resulted in decreased emphasis on the importance of influenza vaccination. Furthermore, some individuals might have been hesitant to receive both the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines simultaneously, leading to lower influenza vaccination coverage.
Despite the limitations of the study, such as the lack of data on facility-level vaccination mandates and the optional reporting for the 2019-2020 season, the findings highlight the need for further investigation into the reasons behind the decline in HCP vaccine coverage. The researchers suggest that strategies such as implementing mandatory immunization policies and offering on-site influenza vaccination at no cost could help improve vaccination coverage among HCP in acute care hospitals.
It is crucial to understand the factors contributing to the recent decline in influenza vaccination among HCP to ensure increased coverage in the future and during public health emergencies.
- Why is influenza vaccination important for healthcare personnel?
- What factors contributed to the decrease in influenza vaccination coverage among HCP?
- What strategies can be implemented to increase influenza vaccination coverage among HCP?
Influenza vaccination is crucial for healthcare personnel as it helps reduce associated morbidity and mortality, protects vulnerable patients, and prevents the spread of the virus within healthcare settings.
The decrease in HCP influenza vaccination coverage can be attributed to factors such as a shift in focus towards COVID-19 vaccination, hesitancy to receive both COVID-19 and influenza vaccines simultaneously, and varying vaccination rates among different HCP roles and geographical areas.
Evidence-based strategies to increase vaccination coverage among HCP include implementing mandatory immunization policies, offering on-site influenza vaccination at no cost to all staff members, and targeted interventions during public health emergencies.