St. John’s Health System in Springfield, Mo. achieved a 99 percent staff influenza immunization rate for seasonal influenza, far exceeding the national health care worker rate of about 40 percent for seasonal influenza. It’s more than double last year’s, when about 44 percent of the 10,500 St. John’s co-workers were vaccinated against the flu. The one percent of staff who is not immunized, follows the organization’s infection control policy and wears a mask during the flu season.
This marked the first year St. John’s required all staff to participate in the flu prevention program – be immunized or wear a mask - in the fitness-for-duty requirement.
“Keeping patients safe is our top priority. Immunization is highly effective in preventing the flu, and requiring all staff members to be immunized goes a long way in keeping our patients safe,” says Dr. William Sistrunk, infectious disease chair. Dr. Sistrunk is a member of the St. John’s Flu Prevention Task force, a group leaders and co-workers working together to ensure reduce the risk of harm to patients. “It’s part of our responsibility to practice what we preach, to set an example.”
Leading authorities, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have long recommended influenza immunization for health care workers based on safety and ethical responsibility. This year the National Quality Forum, a voluntary consensus health care standard organization, recommended that all health care workers receive influenza immunizations to reduce the risk of harm to patients.
“We are pleased with the co-worker and physician response to this initiative to protect our patients, visitors, co-workers and community,” says Jim Brookhart, chief human resources officer.
About 100 people refused to get flu shots, and 43 people received medical exceptions.
St. Johns’ influenza immunization plan takes into consideration several key facts: