SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Minnesota healthcare facilities recognized for flu vaccination efforts

Multiple Minnesota hospitals and nursing homes were recognized on Wednesday for reaching influenza vaccination rates of at least 70 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

In the third year of Minnesota's FluSafe program, a total of 177 out of 219 participating healthcare facilities achieved vaccination rates of at least 70 percent during the 2012-2013 flu season. Among the participating facilities, 55 received blue ribbons for reaching vaccination levels of 90 percent or greater.

Since the FluSafe program began in 2010-2011, the number of facilities achieving 90 percent coverage rates or better doubled from 27 that season to 55 in the most recent season.

The ribbon-earning facilities were recognized during a statewide telephone news conference on Wednesday from the MDH offices in St. Paul.

"While some measures show that Minnesota's rates are slightly higher, we are still below the national goals," Kristen Ehresmann, the director of infectious disease epidemiology prevention and control at the MDH, said. "FluSafe is one way that Minnesota's health care facilities have stepped up to the plate."

The FluSafe program is meant to increase vaccination rates among healthcare workers. Unvaccinated employees of healthcare facilities can pass influenza to their patients, many of whom are at high risk for influenza complications. As part of the program, healthcare facilities receive guidance, promotional materials and tools from the MDH and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help increase vaccination rates.

"The program benefits facilities," Jennifer Heath, FluSafe's program coordinator, said. "It shows patients and families that the facility's employees are committed to patient safety by actively fighting influenza infection. Annual vaccination keeps workers and their families healthier, too."