Minnesota health department lauds facilities for flu vaccination rates

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced on Wednesday that its FluSafe program presented more awards in the 2013-2014 flu season than ever before.

The initiative, which recognizes hospitals and nursing homes with vaccination rates of more than 70 percent, awarded 180 facilities during the season. Different colored ribbons are given for different percentage levels, with 60 facilities earning a blue ribbon for vaccination rates of 90 percent or more in 2013-2014.

"Awarding more ribbons means more protection from flu for patients, residents and health care workers in our hospitals and nursing homes," Kristen Ehresmann, the director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention and control at MDH, said. "We're still striving for all facilities to reach that blue ribbon level of 90 percent coverage, but we're getting closer every year."

Healthcare facilities receive guidance, tools and promotional materials from the MDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under FluSafe to increase their rates. A total of 213 facilities in Minnesota participated in the initiative during the 2013-2014 flu season.

"The program benefits facilities by showing their commitment to patient safety," Denise Dunn, the immunization education and partnerships supervisor with the MDH, said. "The participating hospitals and nursing homes are actively fighting influenza by encouraging employees to get vaccinated. Annual vaccination keeps workers and their families healthier, too."