William Schaffner, M.D., is chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

2009 Flu Vaccination Challenge Begins

With a very challenging flu season ahead, year two of the Joint Commission Resources' Flu Vaccination Challenge has a goal of building on last year's success at raising the flu vaccination rate among U.S. health care workers.

Today is the start of Joint Commission Resources' 2009 Flu Vaccination Challenge, a national campaign timed to the U.S. seasonal flu and trying to raise the flu vaccination rate of America's health care workers considerably from the 42 percent rate of a year ago, when about 1,700 hospitals participated in the inaugural challenge. Seventy-eight percent of those participating hospitals raised their vaccination rates; on average the total number of health care workers vaccinated at those hospitals rose by 14 percent.

But this year's campaign has big goals and a potentially big obstacle. The 2009 Challenge asks hospitals to achieve a 65, 75, or 90 percent vaccination rate for JCR recognition, and it has been expanded to workers in ambulatory and long-term care facilities. The complicating factor is the H1N1 flu, for which a separate vaccine is being developed, meaning workers will be asked to receive multiple shots.

In a new OH&S podcast, Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, discusses why some health care workers choose not to be vaccinated and how the 2009 Challenge seeks to overcome those barriers.

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