News release: FluSafe facilities help protect patients from flu

News Release
September 19, 2019

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FluSafe facilities help protect patients from flu

MDH FluSafe program recognizes hospitals and nursing homes with high flu vaccination rates among staff

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) today released the list of 2018-19 FluSafe facilities in Minnesota. FluSafe facilities are participating hospitals and nursing homes that achieve high flu vaccination rates among health care personnel and actively work to promote flu vaccine among employees.

For the 2018-19 flu season, 109 facilities participated in FluSafe and 69 facilities (43 hospitals, 26 nursing homes) are being recognized for achieving 90% or higher employee flu vaccination rates. Additionally for this season, FluSafe facilities reported on strategies they used to address barriers to flu vaccination among health care personnel.

“Facilities that participate in FluSafe, whether they reach 90% or not, show a great commitment to patient safety,” said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director for MDH. “They are actively working to promote and provide flu vaccine for their employees, which helps protect staff, patients and families from flu.”

Many patients in hospitals and nursing homes are at high risk for serious complications from flu. A high vaccination rate among health care personnel not only helps keep employees and their families healthy, but it also reduces the chances of passing flu to patients.

Flu can be a serious illness even for otherwise healthy people. The flu vaccine helps prevent disease and protect against severe outcomes like hospitalization and death. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine unless they cannot because of medical reasons. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) emphasizes in their vaccine recommendations that all health care personnel should get a flu vaccine every year.   

“Getting a flu vaccine every year for health care personnel should be as standard as washing or disinfecting your hands every time you enter a patient’s room,” said Ehresmann. “It’s part of the promise we make as health care providers to ‘first, do no harm.’”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a Healthy People 2020 objective of vaccinating 90% of health care workers. Nationally, the flu vaccination rate for health care personnel is about 78%.

The FluSafe program helps participating facilities track flu vaccination rates among staff and offers materials and guidance from MDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help them increase their rates. The facilities document their vaccination rates through the state’s immunization information system, the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection.

The FluSafe program started in 2010 as a way of boosting flu vaccination rates among health care personnel by providing public recognition for facilities achieving high flu vaccination rates.

More information on the FluSafe program, including a list of the 2018-19 facilities can be found on the MDH FluSafe website.


Media inquiries:

Andrea Ahneman
MDH Communications