Minnesota DOH announces successful year for FluSafe program

The Minnesota Department of Health announced on August 21 the results of its FluSafe program, which seeks to vaccinate Minnesotan health workers to decrease overall risk of influenza, for the 2012-2013 flu season.

Health workers are at the highest risk of contracting the influenza, as they regularly come into contact with infected patients. The FluSafe program began three years ago in an effort to protect both patients and health workers from the risk of contracting the influenza.

"The program benefits facilities," Program Coordinator Jennifer Heath 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."

This year's FluSafe program gained support from 219 health care facilities throughout Minnesota. In total, 177 facilities had rates of at least 70 percent vaccination and 55 facilities reached a rate of at least 90 percent vaccination.

Facilities that reached the 90 percentile and above received blue ribbons, those between 80-89 percent received red ribbons and those between 70 and 79 percent received white ribbons. Since the inception of the program, the number of health care facilities with rates of 90 percent or higher has doubled from 27 to 55.

The MDH hopes to reach a 90 percent vaccination rate for all of its health care workers by 2020 as a part of its Healthy People 2020 goals; the vaccination rate this year was 66.7 percent.

"While some measures show that Minnesota's rates are slightly higher, we are still below the national goals," MDH Director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology Prevention and Control Kristen Ehresmann said. "FluSafe is one way that Minnesota's health care facilities have stepped up to the plate."