The Redwood Area Hospital was among 177 hospitals and nursing homes from around the state recognized by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for achieving high influenza vaccination rates among the facility’s employees during the 2012-13 flu season.
The Redwood Area Hospital was in the top 25 percent of those recognized. The hospital vaccinated more than 90 percent of its employees against influenza during the past season as part of the Minnesota FluSafe program. National rates of influenza vaccination of health care workers are estimated at 66.7 percent.
The facility received a blue ribbon and certificate of achievement from Minnesota Health Commissioner Edward Ehlinger for its efforts.
The FluSafe program aims to get 100 percent of all health care personnel at hospitals and nursing homes in Minnesota, except those with medical exemptions, vaccinated against influenza each season.
According to state health officials, unvaccinated health care workers can pass highly contagious influenza to their patients, many of whom are at high risk for complications from influenza.
“Our patients’ health is our first priority. Protect-ing them from influenza just makes sense,” said Julie Fiala, infection prevention manager at Redwood Area Hospital. “We also want all of our employees to be as healthy as possible during flu season.”
Of the 219 facilities that participated in FluSafe this year, 57 facilities reached vaccination rates of between 70 and 80 percent, 65 reached levels greater than 80 percent and 55 reached vaccination levels of 90 percent or greater. There are 145 hospitals and about 400 nursing homes in the state.
“We’re extremely pleased with the number of facilities that participated in the program this year,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Prevention and Control Division at MDH. “We’re making progress in getting more health care workers vaccinated. Even among those facilities that didn’t reach 70 percent, many showed significant improvement in their coverage rates.”
Under the FluSafe program, health care facilities receive guidance and access to tools and promotional materials from MDH and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help them increase their rates. The facilities record and document their vaccinations through MDH’s electronic immunization information system.
More information on the FluSafe program, including a list of the 2012-13 facilities recognized, can be found at mdhflu.com.