Mandatory vaccinations at hospitals show rate improvement

A mandatory vaccination rule – with threat of dismissal – has led three U.S. hospitals to increase their staff vaccination rate to almost 100 percent.

Previous approaches like easy access to free vaccines, education campaigns and peer support raised rates to around 90 percent at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, according to Kristen Feemster, reports.

Those who had religious or medical reasons could exempt themselves from the mandatory policy, which 57 out of 9,300 staffers took advantage of. Nine staffers were dismissed for refusing the vaccination.

In a survey taken of the staff, 74 percent agreed with the mandate, 72 percent saw it as coercive and 96 percent saw it as important for the protection of staff and patients, reports. Overall, the vaccination rate went up from 92 percent to 99.3 percent over the course of one year.

The first medical institution to enforce the mandatory vaccination rule was the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. In the five years since it was implemented, the average vaccination rate has been 98.1 percent, according to Robert Rakita, of the University of Washington, reports.

A grievance by the nurses’ union at the Virginia Mason facility was upheld against the policy, but despite the win, 96 percent of the nurses still received the flu shot in 2009, according to Rakita.

These studies may suggest that mandatory immunization may be the most effective way to ensure staff vaccination.

“If the best, most-dedicated, resource-intensive programs get you into the mid-80s, we need a better tool,” Andrew Pavia, of the University of Utah, said, reports.