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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Hospitals Focus on Patient Safety: Flu Vaccination Policies are Part of the Strategy

One thing no one has on their wish list for this gift-giving season is the flu. Getting the flu vaccine is the starting point for reducing the number of flu cases. With the unpredictability in the severity of the flu season from year to year, hospitals are increasingly enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for flu vaccination for vendor representatives in addition to employees as part of an overall patient safety strategy. GHX is aware of more than 300 health system networks enforcing the influenza vaccine, and we have processed over 86,600 flu documents this season. As such, this is a good reminder that credentialing, and vaccine requirements, are all about protecting patients and hospital staff.

Credentialing requirements include vaccinations such as influenza to protect patients from infectious diseases. People at high-risk for developing complications are likely to be the majority of patients in a hospital. 

  • Pregnant women
  • Children 5 years old and younger
  • People over age 65
  • People with chronic medical conditions

By getting the flu vaccine, vendor representatives can help protect these vulnerable groups as they come into contact with them, their physicians and caretakers, and even their visitors in hospitals.

Hospitals begin enforcing flu vaccination as part of their compliance plans in early October, in order to allow time for the vaccine to take full effect. During the 2017-2018 flu season, activity increased in November and remained elevated through the end of March.

The 2017-2018 flu season was particularly severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there were:

  • 8 million illnesses
  • 7 million medical visits
  • 959,000 hospitalizations
  • 79,400 deaths

The flu vaccine remains the most effective method to prevent fluserious complications resulting from flu and thousands of hospitalizations each year. Not only do you not want to get flu, but you also don’t want to transmit it to anyone else. We may not know from year to year the impact that the current flu virus will have on our population, but we do know that the influenza vaccine can reduce transmission of the virus and protect vulnerable populations and your own friends and family.

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