Automated Flu Vaccination Tracking Increases Immunization Rates

October 26, 2014
Krystle Vermes

Tracking influenza vaccination among health care personnel through an automated system enhances their immunization compliance while reducing their administrative burden.

Tracking influenza vaccination among health care personnel through an automated system enhances their immunization compliance while reducing their administrative burden, a study published in the November 2014 issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology suggests.

"Mandatory vaccination programs help protect vulnerable patients, but can be tremendously time and resource dependent," said study author Susan Huang, MD, MPH, in a press release. "By successfully automating a system to track and provide feedback to health care personnel who have not received their seasonal flu vaccine, we are providing safer places for care and reducing the administrative burden of our mandatory vaccination program."

Developed by researchers in the Epidemiology and Infection Prevention Program at the University of California Irvine Health System, the system sends automated reminders to hospital staff and their supervisors at regular intervals prior to the required vaccination deadline. Through the system’s intranet site, hospital supervisors and department chairs can also review the current vaccine status of their employees to ensure their compliance.

Among the nearly 7000 staff members covered under the mandatory policy, the automated immunization reminders and tracking increased vaccination compliance rates from 58% to 85% in 1 year of the policy’s implementation to 96% in 3 years. Additionally, the automated system reduced the number of overtime hours required for health care personnel to work on the mandatory vaccination program by 56% during the 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 influenza seasons.

"Automation of necessary but rote activities can allow medical facilities to implement mandatory flu vaccination and better protect patients without excessive diversion of skilled labor and resources from other important infection prevention activities," Dr. Huang said.

Seasonal influenza is a severe health problem that can cause illness and death in high-risk populations, according to the World Health Organization. Although an epidemic can negatively impact the economy and strain health care services, the seasonal influenza vaccine is an efficient way to reduce the odds of contracting the illness.