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Impact of the flu mask regulation on health care personnel influenza vaccine acceptance rates

Published:April 19, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2016.03.006
      Achieving high vaccination rates of health care personnel (HCP) is critical in preventing influenza transmission from HCP to patients and from patients to HCP; however, acceptance rates remain low. In 2013, New York State adopted the flu mask regulation, requiring unvaccinated HCP to wear a mask when in areas where patients are present. The purpose of this study assessed the impact of the flu mask regulation on the HCP influenza vaccination rate. A 13-question survey was distributed electronically and manually to the HCP to examine their knowledge of influenza transmission and the influenza vaccine and their personal vaccine acceptance history and perception about the use of the mask while working if not vaccinated. There were 1,905 respondents; 87% accepted the influenza vaccine, and 63% were first-time recipients who agreed the regulation influenced their vaccination decision. Of the respondents who declined the vaccine, 72% acknowledge HCP are at risk for transmitting influenza to patients, and 56% reported they did not receive enough information to make an educated decision. The flu mask protocol may have influenced HCP's choice to be vaccinated versus wearing a mask. The study findings supported that HCP may not have adequate knowledge on the morbidity and mortality associated with influenza. Regulatory agencies need to consider an alternative approach to increase HCP vaccination, such as mandating the influenza vaccine for HCP.

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