Just over half of the employees surveyed in a school district got the flu vaccine during the last flu season, a NIOSH report shows—even though vaccination is the most effective method to prevent influenza, according to NIOSH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey covered 49 percent of employees of the district and was conducted as part of a health hazard evaluation (HHE) in which NIOSH set out to determine flu vaccine coverage and assessed knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding flu vaccination. The HHE was requested by the school district’s director of human resources.
Employees’ most common reasons for not getting the vaccine were that they believed they did not need it, that the vaccine did not work, and that they did not have time to get vaccinated, NIOSH found.
Based on their findings, NIOSH investigators made the following recommendations to prevent the spread of influenza in the school district:
Recommend the vaccine to all employees.
Use encouraging messages to promote the vaccine, highlighting the need for employees to protect themselves, their families, and their students.
Consider offering incentives to employees who get the flu vaccine.
Encourage employees to stay home when sick with flu-like symptoms.
“Our findings highlight the need to emphasize the benefits, safety, and effectiveness of vaccination and the importance of staying home when ill with [flu-like] symptoms,” the report concludes.
An HHE report released last week discusses other aspects of the investigation and offers further recommendations for preventing the spread of the flu in school districts.
Other NIOSH HHE reports are available on the agency’s website.