Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state public health officer, today urged Californians to get immunized against influenza as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 4 to 10. Each year in the United States more than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and as many as 49,000 people die after contracting influenza.
Flu season begins each year in September and ends in March, and influenza vaccination is recommended for all Californians six months and older. This year’s vaccine will protect against the H1N1 strain, as well as H3N2 and influenza B.
“As this is National Influenza Vaccination Week, it is a perfect time to remind Californians to get a flu shot to protect themselves and others,” said Dr. Chapman. “Since the flu season typically peaks in December and January, I urge people to get immunized now.”
In conjunction with National Influenza Vaccination Week, CDPH released its annual report on vaccination rates among health care employees across the state. The report found that the employee vaccination rate has increased slightly from 62.6 percent in the 2009-10 flu season to 64.3 percent in 2010-11 for reporting hospitals. The report also shows that hospital reporting compliance grew to 98 percent in the 2010-11 flu season from 80.9 percent during the 2009-10 season.
“Vaccination of all health care workers is strongly recommended in order to prevent transmission of the illness to patients, especially those with long-term medical conditions who are at high-risk for serious complications from the flu,” said Dr. Chapman.
Agencies across the state are joining Dr. Chapman in promoting more vaccination of health care workers, through a letter distributed to all hospitals, long-term care facilities and physician groups throughout the state. Those joining Dr. Chapman including the California Hospital Association, California Association of Health Facilities, California Medical Association and organizations of health care professionals.
The report released by CDPH offers the following recommendations to improve influenza vaccination coverage among health care professionals.
• Hospitals should consider more rigorous influenza vaccination policies, such as mandatory participation or vaccination, to increase influenza vaccination percentages.
• Hospitals should ensure that influenza vaccination status is a requirement of contracts with physician groups, registry organizations, fellowships, and student training programs.
• Hospitals should account for the vaccination status of all non-employee healthcare personnel, including registry and contract personnel, students, and trainees.
• Hospitals should implement robust data collection and management systems to document the vaccination status of all healthcare personnel.
The Influenza Vaccination Report for 2010-11