Mass. Hospital Workers’ Flu Vaccination Rates Fall Below Target

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: A bottle of influenza vaccine is seen in the MinuteClinic at the CVS/pharmacy on January 6, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The 2013-2014 influenza season is starting to take off in the United States, with more than half the country reporting widespread cases of flu activity, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Massachusetts hospitals’ vaccination coverage for health care personnel did not increase during the 2013-2014 flu season, and despite Massachusetts Department of Public Health requirements to report vaccination status, some hospitals continued to report “unknown” for as many as 34 percent of their health care personnel.
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Massachusetts hospitals’ influenza vaccination coverage for health care personnel did not increase during the 2013-2014 flu season, and despite Massachusetts Department of Public Health requirements to report vaccination status, some hospitals reported that as many as 34 percent of their health care personnel’s vaccination status was “unknown.”

On Wednesday, state health officials released this year’s vaccination data for acute care hospitals across Massachusetts. Only 41 percent of those hospitals vaccinated 90 percent or more of their health care personnel, falling below the goal at the state and federal level for the Healthy People 2020 initiative.

State health officials are prepared to cite hospitals with deficiencies for noncompliance with the annual influenza vaccination and reporting requirements and require corrective action. The median number of health care personnel with unknown vaccination status was 5 percent.

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The acute care hospitals that reported employees with “unknown” influenza vaccination status will face corrective action. Reporting an “unknown” status is not allowed according to the state public health official regulations, which state: “A hospital shall require and maintain for each individual proof of current vaccination against influenza virus...or the individual’s declination statement.”

In the report, Mass. DPH also concluded that the number of unknown vaccination statuses is inversely proportional to the hospital’s reported health care personnel vaccination rate. Almost every hospital with more than 10 percent of employees with unknown vaccination statuses had a vaccination rate below 80 percent. The statewide median influenza vaccination rate for healthcare personnel was 86 percent. Teaching hospitals and larger facilities had the highest vaccination rates.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires that medical facilities report their influenza vaccination compliance rates from Oct. 1 to March 31, 2014 or face a financial penalty.

Each facility is required to report the number of healthcare personnel (HCP)

- vaccinated at the facility

- vaccinated off-site (at their doctor’s office, at the pharmacy)

- declined the vaccine

- declined vaccine with a medical condition

- unknown vaccination status

Last year, according to the state’s website, Mass. DPH expected that a 90 percent influenza vaccination coverage rate would be reached for all licensed healthcare facilities this season.

Out of all the 75 qualifying acute care hospitals in the state that submitted vaccination data:

- 31 facilities (41 percent) vaccinated 90 percent or more of their healthcare personnel

- 20 facilities (26 percent) vaccinated 80 to 80 percent of their healthcare personnel

- 18 facilities (24 percent) vaccinated 70 to 79 percent of their healthcare personnel

- 6 facilities (8 percent) vaccinated 60 to 69 percent of their healthcare personnel

- 21 facilities (28 percent) had a vaccine declination rate of 14 percent or greater

- 11 facilities (15 percent) classified 14 percent or more of their employee vaccination status as unknown.

Hospitals in the metro area around Boston had 91 percent flu vaccination rate, which was the highest in the state, though the medians shifted according to region.

Southeast Massachusetts: 85 percent

Western Massachusetts: 82 percent

Northeast Massachusetts: 80 percent

Central Massachusetts: 88 percent

Metro area: 91 percent

Boston: 86 percent

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, and Winchester Hospital had the state’s highest acute care hospital vaccination compliance rate, with 99 percent of healthcare personnel vaccinated during the 2013-14 influenza season. Cape Cod Healthcare’s Cape Cod Hospital had the lowest vaccination compliance rate of an acute care hospital in the state at 62 percent.