Flu Information for Healthcare Facility Managers
The best way to protect staff and patients from the flu is to strongly encourage all staff and patients to get a flu shot every year. At certain healthcare facilities in Rhode Island, healthcare workers are required to either be vaccinated against the flu annually, or wear surgical masks when the Director of Health declares flu to be widespread. These facilities are also required to report to the Department of Health annually on the flu vaccination status of their healthcare workers via a web-based survey.
What you should do
Encourage flu vaccination among healthcare workers
Healthcare facility managers can encourage flu vacciantion among staff by establishing a culture of prevention within the organization and making flu vaccination accessible and convenient for all staff.
Allow more access to flu vaccine
- Enroll in Rhode Island's State-Supplied Vaccine (SSV) Program to get no-cost flu vaccine.
- Provide free flu vaccine in the workplace.
- Offer vaccine at multiple times and locations throughout the season, convenient to workers on all shifts.
- Use a mobile vaccination cart to take flu vaccine to staff.
- Provide staff with a voucher for vaccination at a drugstore or clinic.
- Work with pharmacy consultants, visiting nurses associations, or other community immunizers to offer vaccinations.
- Offer flu vaccine at mandatory trainings, departmental conferences, and other meetings.
Promote enthusiasm about flu vaccine
- Organize a "vaccine day" to offer flu vaccine, and vaccinate the medical director and all managers in front of staff.
- Hold contests or provide incentives to get vaccinated (e.g. gift cards, raffles, pizza party).
- Emphasize that flu vaccination protects not just the employee, but also their loved ones, colleagues, and the patients for whom they provide care.
- Encourage employees to set a good example. Remind them that their action carries a lot of weight in others' decisions to be vaccinated.
- Remind and encourage employees via emails, posters, an employee newsletter, and any other communication tools to get vaccinated. Provide a deadline or goal.
- Track and report vaccination rates to staff and supervisors.
Educate staff about the flu vaccine with consideration to cultural diversity
- Provide flu vaccine educational materials, including Vaccine Information Statements, in multiple languages.
- Access guidance from the HHS National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care.
Prevent the spread of flu during an outbreak
At residential facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living residences, patients have a particularly high risk of infections and complications during flu outbreaks. Encourage healthcare workers to protect residents by taking the following actions:
- Restrict visitors with flu-like symptoms.
- Separate residents with flu-like symptoms from healthy residents. If sick residents cannot be placed in single rooms, create a temporary barrier between beds using sheets or curtains. Designate a limited number of staff members to care exclusively for sick residents. (Staff members should not be pregnant or have chronic health conditions.)
- Maintain good ventilation
- Clean commonly-touched surfaces with household disinfectants frequently.
- Do not share linens, eating utensils, or dishes belonging to those who are sick without thorough washing. Staff members should avoid “hugging” laundry before washing it to prevent contaminating themselves.
- Be aware of the special health needs of people at-risk of flu-related complications.
- Monitor flu supplies, including: flu vaccine, rapid flu or molecular flu testing, and surgical face masks.
- Make sure unvaccinated healthcare workers wear surgical masks when they have direct patient contact.
Report healthcare worker flu vaccination rates
Healthcare facilities regulated by the Department of Health are required to report each year on the flu vaccination status of their healthcare workers. Reporting takes place between April 1 and May 15 via a web-based survey. The form is sent to the facility's contact listed with the Office of Facilities Regulation. Healthcare facility managers should ensure that the contact listed is up-to-date each year.