Massachusetts hospital workers’ flu shot rates are still too low, exposing hospital patients to a higher risk of infection, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The average flu shot rate this year was about 81 percent, which is higher than last year’s 70 percent rate, but still lower than the regulators’ goal of 90 percent.
The state’s hospitals vary widely with respect to their vaccination rates – Newton-Wellesley’s rate is 101.8 percent (according to the hospital, seasonal fluctuations in employment numbers are the reason that their percentage is over 100); Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s rate is 98.3 percent; but Anna Jaques Hospital’s rate is only 61.2 percent.
State regulators have mulled over since last year the possibility of passing new regulations mandating that state hospital employees with direct contact with patients get flu vaccines each year. To date however, regulators have stopped short of that effort, in favor of “persuading” the hospitals to comply. While hospitals apparently have tried to comply, many of them do not mandate that their employees receive flu shots. The decision then is put in the hands of the individual employee. Regulators, this year, again decided not to mandate compliance, but are increasing their minimum required average to 83 percent, from last year’s 73 percent.
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