The Public Health Service (PHS) of the Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) issued a letter to long-term care medical directors
earlier this month in conjunction with National Influenza Vaccination Week
(Dec. 4-10), urging them to support vaccination of health care personnel as a
means of preventing influenza outbreaks in nursing facilities. 

The letter notes that high rates of employee vaccinations have
been shown to reduce the influenza mortality of nursing home residents by 30%
to 40%.  While the letter acknowledges
that vaccination rates among health care personnel have been increasing slowly
over time, vaccination rates among health care personnel in long-term care
facilities ranges from 50% to 65%, well below the national Healthy People 2020
target of 90%. 

The PHS recommends that providers consult the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources for
approaches to increase vaccination rates among health care personnel.