FORT KENT — Northern Maine Medical Center was informed by the Maine Immunization Program that it has received the highest rating in the state of Maine for immunizing healthcare workers against influenza for the 2017- 2018 season.
Jessica Shiminski, Epidemiologist for the Maine Immunization Program said in the announcement letter, “Vaccination is the most effective and efficient way to ensure that healthcare workers, their family members and patients, particularly those who are immunosuppressed, are protected against seasonal influenza.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommend that all U.S. healthcare workers get vaccinated annually against influenza. Maine law requires that healthcare facilities report data on seasonal influenza vaccine coverage among healthcare workers to the CDC annually.
NMMC’s reported vaccination rate for 2017-2018 is 99.1 percent, compared to the state average of 91.5 percent. The CDC data includes all paid employees regardless of clinical responsibility or patient contact. In addition, NMMC goes an extra step and requires all volunteers and students who enter the facility to be immunized as well. Albertine Soucy, RN, BSN, CIC, Infection Preventionist at NMMC indicated that a key factor for the continued improvement of compliance rates is the fact that proof of influenza immunization has been a condition of employment since 2014. Whether the individual is a per diem worker, a physician or a member of the Board of Trustees, all must meet the immunization requirement.
Employees with documented medical and religious exemptions to influenza vaccination are required to wear a face mask upon entrance to the facility. The policy, implemented in 2014 for the safety of patients, requires employees with exemptions to wear a mask beginning with the reporting of the first confirmed positive influenza case and extending through the end of influenza season.
To learn more about influenza transmission and prevention practices, go to www.cdc.gov/flu.
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