ANN ARBOR, MI—The VA continues to lag behind community hospitals in mandating annual influenza vaccine for all healthcare personal, a new study suggested.

The report in JAMA Network Open said requiring HCP vaccination against the flu helps limit disease spread to patients at high risk of developing serious complications from the virus.1

Researchers from the VA’s Ann Arbor, MI, Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Medical School added that vaccination coverage has been shown to be significantly greater among employers requiring and encouraging HCP to receive the annual influenza vaccination.

In this study, the team sought to compare the proportion of respondent hospitals requiring HCP to receive annual influenza vaccination between 2013 and 2017. One focus was assessing how those proportions differed between VA and non-VA hospitals.

This national survey study garnered responses from 1,062 infection preventionists between 2013 and 2017 from nationally representative samples of all VA and non-VA hospitals in the United States. Data analysis was conducted from Nov. 17, 2017, to March 26, 2018.

The overall response rate for the 2013 survey was 69.3% (non-VA, 70.6% [403 of 571]; VA, 63.5% [80 of 126]) and in 2017 was 59.1% (non-VA, 59.1% [530 of 897]; VA, 58.9% [73 of 124]).

Results indicated that, among all responding hospitals, mandatory influenza vaccination requirements for HCP increased from 37.1% in 2013 to 61.4% in 2017 (difference, 24.3%; 95% CI, 18.4%-30.2%; P < .001).

“This change was driven by non-VA hospitals, as requirement policies increased from 44.3% (171 of 386) in 2013 to 69.4% (365 of 526) in 2017 (difference, 25.1%; 95% CI, 18.8%-31.4%; P < .001),” the authors explained. “Conversely, there was no significant change during this period in the proportion of VA hospitals that required influenza vaccinations for HCP (1.3% [1 of 77] to 4.1% [3 of 73]; difference, 2.8%; 95% CI, -2.4% to 8.0%; P = .29).”

The researchers emphasized that, “despite a substantial increase in mandates among non-VA hospitals, we found that many non-VA hospitals and nearly all VA hospitals are still not currently mandating influenza vaccinations for HCP.”

The authors called for a change, recommending, “In addition to implementing other well-described strategies to increase vaccination rates, health care organizations should consider mandating influenza vaccinations while appropriately weighing and managing the moral, ethical, and legal implications.”

  1. Greene MT, Fowler KE, Ratz D, Krein SL, Bradley SF, Saint S. Changes in Influenza Vaccination Requirements for Health Care Personnel in US Hospitals. JAMA Netw Open. 2018 Jun 1;1(2):e180143. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0143.PubMed PMID: 30646060; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6324418.