Thirty Percent of Hospital Personnel Remain Unvaccinated Against COVID-19

Approximately 30% of health care personnel (HCP) in over 2000 US hospitals remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 as of September 15, 2021, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. The investigators said that this analysis is the most comprehensive assessment of vaccination rates among US hospital personnel to date, using data from 3.3 million HCP.

“Our analysis revealed that vaccine coverage among U.S. hospital-based HCP stalled significantly after initial uptake,” said Hannah Reses, MPH, in a press release. “Additional efforts are needed now to improve HCP vaccine coverage and reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to patients and other hospital staff.”

The study analyzed data voluntarily reported to the Department of Health and Human Services Unified Hospital Data Surveillance System on COVID-19 vaccination coverage among hospital-based HCP from January 20, 2021 to September 15, 2021. A total of 2086 hospitals, which were comprised of children’s hospitals, short-term acute care hospitals (ACH), long-term ACH, and critical access hospitals, met analysis validation checks and reported data on HCP vaccination coverage and total personnel numbers.

The investigators found that overall vaccination rates among US HPC increased from 36% to 60% between January and April 2021. However, the rate of vaccination decreased substantially, only reaching 70% in September 2021. While vaccination coverage increased by just 5% between April and August 2021, it increased another 5% in 1 month between August and September 2021, which the investigators believe could be related to rising COVID-19 rates associated with the Delta variant or vaccination mandates.

The highest vaccination coverage was found among HCP in children’s hospitals at 77%, followed by 70.1% in short-term ACH, 68.8% in long-term ACH, and 64% in critical access hospitals. Hospitals in metropolitan counties had the highest vaccination rates at 71%, compared to those in rural counties (65.1%) and non-metropolitan rural counties (63.3%).

“Hospital-based HCP play a critical role in influencing community uptake of vaccines and are also at increased risk of both acquiring and transmitting COVID-19 in healthcare settings,” said Ann Marie Pettis, BSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology 2021 president, in the press release. “The findings from this analysis suggest that vaccine mandates as well as investment in additional educational and promotional activities could help increase vaccine coverage among HCP to better protect public health.”

REFERENCE

Most comprehensive analysis to date reveals 30% of healthcare personnel in US hospitals remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. News release. EurekAlert; November 18, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934989