Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Federal Strategies for Increasing Influenza Vaccination Rates Among Nursing Home Employees

Christina E. Morgan, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University, 2100 M Street NW, Suite 203, Washington, DC, USA

Learning Objectives for this Presentation:
By the end of the presentation participants will be able to:
1. Explain the public health benefits of higher influenza vaccination rates among nursing home employees
2. Identify and discuss potential federal policy initiatives to increase vaccine availability and uptake among nursing home staff

Nursing home residents are highly vulnerable to influenza and its complications not only because of their age, but because they are more frail and more likely to suffer from chronic medical conditions than their non-institutionalized counterparts. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) therefore recommends annual immunization of both residents and facility staff, a practice which has been demonstrated to reduce facility outbreaks, minimize complications and mortality rates among residents, and reduce employee absenteeism. Despite facility-sponsored immunization initiatives in the majority of U.S. nursing homes, however, vaccine uptake among employees remains below 40%. A federal strategy is therefore needed to improve vaccine accessibility for nursing home employees and to ensure facilities' educate employees on the benefits and risks of vaccination using documented best practices for maximizing compliance.

A federal-level initiative for Medicare/Medicaid-certified U.S. nursing homes

All employees of U.S. nursing homes who enter and exit facilities daily.

Project Description:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have both been suggested as appropriate federal entities for addressing low vaccination rates among nursing home staff. This presentation will evaluate which agency is best suited for the task and identify specific policy recommendations for improving vaccine coverage in this population.

Results/Lessons Learned: