Loyola University Medical Center endured its share of objections from healthcare workers who did not want to be vaccinated against influenza. But it has found a way to convince nearly everyone on staff to get the flu shot.
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Mandatory flu vaccination programs for healthcare workers have stirred controversy and are especially unpopular among nurses. But Chicago's Loyola University Medical Center—one of the first hospitals mandate that all employees get the flu vaccine—has achieved 98% to 99% compliance among its 8,008 workers, with only 15 involuntary terminations since 2009.
"We do everything we can to minimize any impediment," says Jorge Parada, MD, professor of medicine at Loyola, MD and author of a report on the Loyola effort that he presented Sunday to attendees gathered at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's annual conference in Fort Lauderdale. "We make sure it's free and easy to get."
While prior to the policy, vaccination rates at 561-bed Loyola ranged around 65%, last year compliance was 98.7%, and the year before, it was 99%, Parada says.
Last year, the hospital allowed 97 employees an exemption on religious or medical grounds, and only five employees were terminated for refusing vaccination. Three of those five were unpaid volunteers who later reconsidered, got vaccinated and returned to work.