Use of intranet and other interventions to increase influenza vaccination among health care workers

Christopher George Ferris, The University of Texas School of Public Health

Abstract

Influenza (the flu) is a serious respiratory illness that can cause severe complications, often leading to hospitalization and even death. Influenza epidemics occur in most countries every year, usually during the winter months. Despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and efforts by health care institutions across the United States, influenza vaccination rates among health care workers in the United States remain low. How to increase the number of vaccinated health care workers is an important public health question and is examined in two journal articles included here. The first journal article evaluates the effectiveness of an Intranet intervention in increasing the proportion of health care workers (HCWs) who received influenza vaccination. Hospital employees were required go to the hospital's Intranet and select "vaccine received," "contraindicated," or "declined" from the online questionnaire. Declining employees automatically received an online pop-up window with education about vaccination; managers were provided feedback on employees' participation rates via e-mail messages. Employees were reminded of the Intranet requirement in articles in the employee newsletter and on the hospital's Intranet. Reminders about the Intranet questionnaire were provided through managers and newsletters to the HCWs. Fewer than half the employees (43.7%) completed the online questionnaire. Yet the hospital witnessed a statistically significant increase in the percentage of employees who received the flu vaccine at the hospital – 48.5% in the 2008-09 season as compared to 36.5%, 38.5% and 29.8% in the previous three years (P < 0.05). The second article assesses current interventions employed by hospitals, health systems and nursing homes to determine which policies have been the most effective in boosting vaccination rates among American health care workers. A systematic review of research published between January 1994 and March 2010 suggests that education is necessary but not usually sufficient to increase vaccine uptake. Education about the flu and flu vaccines is most effective when complemented with easy access and making the vaccine free, although this combination may not be sufficient to achieve the desired vaccination levels among HCWs. The findings point toward adding incentives for HCWs to get vaccinated and requiring them to record their vaccination status on a declination/consent form – either written or electronic. Based on these findings, American health care organizations, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities, should consider using online declination forms as a method for increasing influenza vaccination rates among their employees. These online forms should be used in conjunction with other policies, including free vaccine, mobile distribution and incentives. To further spur health care organizations to adopt policies and practices that will raise influenza vaccination rates among employees, The Joint Commission – an independent, not-for- profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 17,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States – should consider altering its standards. Currently, The Joint Commission does not require signed declination forms from employees who eschew vaccination; it only echoes the CDC's recommendations: "Health care facilities should require personnel who refuse vaccination to complete a declination form." Because participation in Joint Commission accreditation is required for Medicare reimbursement, action taken by the Joint Commission to require interventions such as mandatory declination/consent forms might result in immediate action by health care organizations to follow these new standards and lead to higher vaccination rates among HCWs. 1“Frequently Asked Questions for H1N1 and Seasonal Influenza.” The Joint Commission - Infection Control: http://www.jointcommission.org/PatientSafety/InfectionControl/h1n1_faq.htm.

Subject Area

Public health|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Ferris, Christopher George, "Use of intranet and other interventions to increase influenza vaccination among health care workers" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3464851.
https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/dissertations/AAI3464851

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