News release: Hospitals, nursing homes recognized for efforts to vaccinate health care workers against influenza

News Release
September 29, 2015

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Hospitals, nursing homes recognized for efforts to vaccinate health care workers against influenza

FluSafe program celebrates fifth year with record number of facilities earning blue ribbons

The Minnesota Department of Health’s FluSafe program completed its fifth year by awarding a record number of blue ribbons to hospitals and nursing homes that vaccinated 90 percent or more of their health care workers against influenza last season.

In the first year of the FluSafe program (2010-11), the number of facilities achieving 90 percent coverage rates or higher was 27, which only accounted for 20 percent of total participants that year. For the 2014-15 season, 70 facilities earned blue ribbons (40 percent of participants).

“The number of health care facilities achieving that blue ribbon status has increased every year of the FluSafe program,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control at MDH. “This is a great achievement for these facilities and shows their dedication to protecting patient safety and promoting good health practices for their staff.”

For the 2014-15 season, 175 health care facilities participated. Of the 151 facilities that earned ribbons, 70 reached vaccination levels of 90 percent or greater, earning blue ribbons; 51 were in the 80-89 percent range, earning red ribbons; and 30 reached 70-79 percent, earning white ribbons.
All facilities that participate in the FluSafe program, even those not reaching 70 percent coverage rates, are taking important steps to vaccinate more health care workers, Ehresmann said.

Unvaccinated health care workers can potentially pass highly contagious influenza to their patients, many of whom are at high risk for complications of influenza. The FluSafe program aims to get all health care workers, except those with medical exemptions, at hospitals and nursing homes in Minnesota vaccinated against influenza each season.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal of vaccinating 90 percent of health care personnel in its Healthy People 2020 objectives. Recent CDC data on national influenza vaccination rates among health care personnel stated that overall, 77.3 percent of health care personnel surveyed reported receiving an influenza vaccination during the 2014–15 season.

Health care facilities participating in the FluSafe program receive guidance and access to tools and promotional materials from MDH and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help them increase their rates. The facilities record and document their vaccination rates through the state’s electronic immunization information system, the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC). There are approximately 145 hospitals and 375 nursing homes in the state.

More information on the FluSafe program, including a list of the 2014-15 facilities earning blue, red and white ribbons, can be found on the MDH website at

Information on where to find an influenza vaccination location near you can also be found at


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications