Background: The rate of influenza vaccination among healthcare workers (HCWs) is low, despite a good rationale and strong recommendations for vaccination from many health organizations.
Objective: To increase influenza vaccination rates by instituting the first mandatory influenza vaccination program for HCWs.
Design and setting: A 5-year study (from 2005 to 2010) at Virginia Mason Medical Center, a tertiary care, multispecialty medical center in Seattle, Washington, with approximately 5,000 employees.
Methods: All HCWs of the medical center were required to receive influenza vaccination. HCWs who were granted an accommodation for medical or religious reasons were required to wear a mask at work during influenza season. The main outcome measure was rate of influenza vaccination among HCWs.
Results: In the first year of the program, there were a total of 4,703 HCWs, of whom 4,588 (97.6%) were vaccinated, and influenza vaccination rates of more than 98% were sustained over the subsequent 4 years of our study. Less than 0.7% of HCWs were granted an accommodation for medical or religious reasons and were required to wear a mask at work during influenza season, and less than 0.2% of HCWs refused vaccination and left Virginia Mason Medical Center.
Conclusion: A mandatory influenza vaccination program for HCWs is feasible, results in extremely high vaccination rates, and can be sustained over the course of several years.