For the seventh year, hospitals and nursing homes across the state have committed to preventing the spread of flu in their facilities by participating in the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) FluSafe program. Participating facilities are recognized for achieving high flu vaccination rates among their health care workers.

Many patients in hospitals and nursing homes are at high risk for serious complications from flu. A high vaccination rate among health care workers not only helps keep employees and their families healthy, but it reduces the chances of passing flu to patients.

For the 2016-17 season, 84 hospitals and 65 nursing homes participated, and over 93 percent of facilities earned a ribbon recognizing their work:

Blue ribbon (vaccination rate of 90 percent or higher) – 67 facilities

Red ribbon (vaccination rate of 80-89 percent) – 41 facilities

White ribbon (vaccination rate of 70-79 percent) – 31 facilities

“Participating in FluSafe shows a commitment to patient safety,” said Denise Dunn, a vaccine-preventable diseases program manager at MDH. “These facilities are going the extra mile to promote and offer flu vaccinations to their staff.”

Vaccinating health care workers is also an important part of pandemic preparedness. FluSafe offers resources that facilities can use to communicate the importance of vaccination to their employees and practice for a pandemic response.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a Healthy People 2020 objective of vaccinating 90 percent of health care workers. Health care facilities participating in the FluSafe program receive tools, materials and guidance from MDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help them increase their rates. The facilities document their vaccination rates through the state’s immunization information system, the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection.

“After seven years, we continue to be grateful for – and impressed by – the important steps participating facilities are taking to prevent flu through health care worker vaccination,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease at MDH.

More information on the FluSafe program, including a list of the 2016-17 facilities earning blue, red and white ribbons, can be found at Influenza (Flu).