HHS advisory panel urges stronger flu vaccine policy
HHS’ National Vaccine Advisory Committee approved a recommendation that healthcare employers that haven’t achieved 90% influenza vaccination compliance after following other recommendations to boost flu vaccination rates “strongly consider” an employee requirement for flu vaccination. Along with four other related recommendations, the vaccine committee also urged the assistant secretary for health at HHS, Dr. Howard Koh, to ensure that the recommendation be implemented in HHS facilities and services, including the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, HHS staff who are healthcare employees and at federally qualified health centers. The committee released the recommendations for comment in December and now has formally approved them for presentation to Koh, who is free to act or not act upon them, according to a spokeswoman for the assistant secretary. The other recommendations included one that healthcare employers establish comprehensive flu infection prevention programs and one that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CMS continue to try to standardize the methods used to measure vaccination rates. Other groups have voiced support for healthcare worker vaccination requirements, including the National Business Group on Health and the American Hospital Association.