Healthcare News & Insights

Case Study: Hospital attains 98% staff vaccination rate

Slow and steady wins the race: One hospital system nearly doubled its staff flu vaccination rate in just three years — and learned an important lesson in community education. Here’s how they did it.

BJC HealthCare, a St. Louis-based affiliate of the Washington University School of Medicine, was looking to significantly increase the number of staffers who got the flu vaccine. In 2006, 54% of BJC employees were vaccinated — higher than the national average, but far below the hospital’s goal of 80%.

BJC already offered the vaccine for free to employees and also had an education/incentive program in place to encourage them to make use of the program.

The health system took a series of steps each year that gradually increased the number of employees who got vaccinated:

In 2007, employees who declined to get the shot were asked to sign a form indicating  they knew the risks that presented to them, their families and patients. That year the vaccination rate shot up from 54% to 71%.

In 2008, BJC made vaccinations mandatory for any employee who didn’t get a medical or religious waiver. At the same time, the hospital stepped up its education campaign. That year, 98.4% of employees were vaccinated.

Among those who didn’t get the vaccine, 0.3% had a religious waiver, and 1.2% received a medical waiver  — usually due to a history of either allergic reactions or Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Interestingly, many of the people who applied for a medical waiver were confused about their actual risk: Several employees cited asthma or a suppressed immune system as reasons to skip the vaccine. Of course, those are two conditions that put people in the high-risk group for flu and make it even more important to get vaccinated.

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