THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

State laws heighten influenza vaccination rates among health care workers

Between 2006 and 2011, 19 states added state laws for influenza vaccination requirements for health care workers. | File photo

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine shows that state laws requiring health care works to receive their influenza vaccines can raise vaccination rates.

Between 2000 and 2005, New Hampshire and Maine were the only two states with flu vaccine requirement laws specifically for people working in the health care industry. In those five years, health care workers had a 22.5 percent average for their influenza vaccination rates.

Between 2006 and 2011, 19 other states added state laws for influenza vaccination requirements. When this happened, health care workers had a 50.9 percent average for influenza vaccination.

"Flu vaccination for all health care workers has long been recommended as one of the most effective ways to avoid infecting vulnerable patients with influenza, which kills thousands of people every year," Dr. Chyongchiou Jeng Lin, lead author and associate professor in Pitt's Department of Family Medicine, said. "State laws mandating that health care workers get flu vaccinations are an effective method to potentially save lives."

The study, available in the Journal of the National Medical Association, analyzed influenza vaccination rates between 2000 and 2011. The researchers made scores for each of the states determined according to the law’s rigor.

"We're finding that the higher the score -- meaning the state has a law and includes components like a mandate or education -- the greater the probability that the vaccination rate among health care workers will be higher," Lin said.

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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences 3550 Terrace St Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2500

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