Less than half of US healthcare workers get flu shots

Low vaccination rates may put patients at risk, finds UCLA/Harvard study

BACKGROUND: More than 36,000 people died between 1990 and 1999 from influenza, the sixth leading cause of death in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend vaccinating healthcare workers with direct patient contact as a priority in preventing spread of the disease.

FINDINGS: UCLA/Harvard researchers analyzed data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey to measure flu vaccination rates among U.S. healthcare workers. From a sample of 1,651 workers, the overall vaccination rate was 38 percent. Rates were particularly low in workers who were health aides, African American or under 50.

IMPACT: The low flu vaccination rate among healthcare workers increases their likelihood of contracting the flu and transmitting it to their patients. Educational campaigns need to improve outreach to healthcare workers who are African American, under 50 or health aides in order to overcome barriers to vaccination and reduce flu-related deaths.

AUTHORS: Dr. William King, visiting assistant physician, Department of Infectious Diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, are available for interviews.

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JOURNAL: The research will appear in the February edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of General Internal Medicine, Vol. 21, No. 2.

FUNDING: Funding from the National Institutes of Health supported the research.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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