NH Occupational Health Surveillance Program Releases Report on Impact of Influenza Policies

February 1, 2018

Influenza Report Cover Image

As reported to NH DHHS during the 2016-2017 influenza season, the overall State vaccination percentage in hospitals was 94.2%.

A new report from the NH Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) called, Impact of Influenza Policies among New Hampshire Healthcare Personnel, aims to better understand the impact of influenza vaccination policies on healthcare providers (HCP). Through their jobs on the front line, HCP can both be infected by and transmit influenza to patients and other employees. New Hampshire law requires that each hospital and residential facility offers the seasonal influenza vaccination to employees, but does not require vaccination by employees. Facilities are free to implement their own policies requiring some or all HCP to be vaccinated, and those policies are what are looked at in this new report.

Major findings from the report include:

  • The two main reasons for employees choosing to receive the influenza vaccine were, “my employer requires me to be vaccinated for the flu (29.7%) and to protect myself, family and patients from the flu (24.3%).”
  • The top two reasons for employees choosing not to receive the flu vaccine were, “I feel it infringes on my rights (20.3%) and I don’t think that flu vaccines work (17.4%).”
  • For those reporting that they received the flu vaccine, 76.5% reported that the educational material provided by their employer did not influence their decision to receive the flu vaccine.

“Our findings indicate that healthcare facilities need to adopt diverse strategies to increase influenza vaccine rates, in conjunction with a comprehensive infection control and prevention program, including easy access to vaccination on site, over multiple days, and at no cost,” explains Dr. Karla Armenti, Director of NH OHSP. “It is also important to include HCP in the process of developing these strategies as they can provide valuable information and help balance individual workers’ rights with public health interests.”

The New Hampshire Occupational Health Surveillance Project provides meaningful statistics to identify priority occupational safety and health issues in the state. This includes reports on a variety of core occupational health indicators based on measures of health (work-related disease, injury, or disability) or factors associated with health, such as workplace exposures, hazards or interventions. It is a project at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. For more information visit: www.nhohsp.unh.edu.