For more than 30 years, the CDC has recommended that health care workers receive flu vaccines to prevent the spread of the illness. Despite this recommendation, less than two-thirds of health care workers were vaccinated in 2010-2011. Vaccine mandates, either by hospital policy or state law, are intended to help reach vaccination goals among health care workers.
A recent study published online in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology finds that hospital mandates, rather than state laws, were more effective at compelling health care workers to receive a flu vaccine.
The study finds that hospital mandates with consequences for noncompliance, such as termination or being required to wear a face mask, were associated with close to a 13 percent increase in vaccination rates. Hospital mandates with termination as a consequence for noncompliance were estimated to increase vaccination rates by 12.8 percent. Mandates with consequences other than termination saw an estimated 11.5 percent increase in vaccination rates.
Study authors Richard K. Zimmerman, MD, MPH, MA and Mary Patricia Nowalk, PhD, RD and their colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh suggest that hospital policies may be more effective because they are more flexible and may be more specific than state laws.
The study, which is the first to examine the relationship among state laws, hospital policies and health care worker flu vaccination rates, was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research program.