Increasing flu vaccinations among home healthcare workers could reduce patient illness and hospitalization

If all HHC agencies adopted policies requiring staff to be vaccinated against influenza, the researchers predicted an 11.25% reduction in the rate of hospital transfers due to respiratory infections.

The results of a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control suggest that increasing vaccination rates among home care workers (HCWs) may reduce respiratory infection-related hospitalizations among patients in HHC facilities. According to the investigators, the results are among the first to highlight links between HHC staff flu vaccination rates and patient illnesses nationwide.

During the 2019-2020 flu season, adults age 65 and older accounted for 57% of influenza-related infections and 75% of influenza-related deaths in the United States. Previous studies have shown that healthcare workers are one of the main sources of flu transmission to geriatric patients during flu season. In 2018, 3.4 million Medicare beneficiaries received HHC services, highlighting the importance of vaccinating HHC workers.

“Millions of older Americans receive HHC services on a yearly basis, but little is known about the flu vaccination rate among HHC workers and its impact on these patients,” said first author Jingjing Shang, PhD, RN, in a press release. “Our study provides valuable new information that may help inform HHC vaccination policies to reduce influenza-related illness and hospitalizations among this population and may also have implications for HHC vaccination policies in relation to COVID- 19.”

The study assessed the association between hospital transfers due to respiratory infection in HHC patients and staff vaccination policies of the corresponding HHC agencies. Investigators conducted a nationwide survey of HHC agencies and then obtained assessment data for all Medicare beneficiaries who received services from these agencies for a 60-day period. The average age of patients in the analysis was 80.3 years, according to the study.

Of the 460 HHC agencies surveyed, researchers found that 26.2% required staff to be vaccinated against influenza and 71.2% reported staff vaccination rates of 75% or more during the 2017- season. 2018. Notably, organizations requiring staff to be vaccinated against the flu were more likely to be non-profit and hospital-based. They also had significantly higher staff vaccination rates compared to agencies with no requirement (95.5% vs. 61.2%).

If all HHC agencies adopted policies requiring staff to be vaccinated against influenza, the researchers predicted an 11.25% reduction in the rate of hospital transfers due to respiratory infections compared to rates if vaccinations remained at status quo. . This reduction would translate to approximately 6,752 hospitalizations avoided annually for Medicare beneficiaries, according to the study.

“This study provides the first quantifiable evidence that requiring influenza vaccination for HHC workers could significantly reduce the burden and cost of seasonal influenza for older Americans in the HHC setting, as well as for members of their family and the American healthcare system,” said Linda Dickey. , RN, MPH, CIC, FAPIC, 2022 President of the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

REFERENCE

A new study suggests that increased flu vaccination among home healthcare workers in the United States could reduce patient illness and hospitalization. Press release. March 31, 2022; Eurek alert. Accessed April 5, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/948048

Comments are closed.