INTEGRIS-Grove is one of 50 hospitals in Oklahoma to meet the influenza vaccination rate of 90 percent or higher during the past flu season.

According to Debbie Lawson, with INTEGRIS, 383 out of 387 employees were vaccinated during the 2012-13 flu season. Others vaccinated included emergency first responders, contract workers, volunteers, students and physicians. The 90 percent rate of vaccination was reached by Dec. 1, 2012. New employees were vaccinated at time of hire.

The high vaccination rate, explained Lawson, is due to a mandatory INTEGRIS policy.

Of the four employees not vaccinated, two had medical contraindications and could not be vaccinated; while the other two had religious reasons. Lawson said those employees were not in direct patient care.  

"CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommend that all U.S. health care workers get vaccinated annually against influenza," Lawson said.

Health care workers who get vaccinated reduce the following:

transmission of influenza staff illness and absenteeism influenza-related illness and death, especially among people at increased risk for severe influenza illness

Additionally, higher vaccination levels among staff has been associated with a lower risk of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) influenza cases. 

Lawson said influenza outbreaks in hospitals and long-term care facilities have been attributed to low influenza vaccination coverage among health care workers in those facilities.

INTEGRIS-Grove Hospital has maintained a vaccination rate of greater than 90 percent since 2007. Lawson said the goal for the 2013-14 flu season is 100 percent.

The official influenza season is from October through March.