Cottage Health is committed to the well-being of all who interact with them — and that starts with preventing the flu. But it’s no easy task.
Before 2013, Cottage Health found that each year between 60 and 70 percent of their employees received the flu vaccine. Although this is the average vaccination rate among all health care workers, low vaccination rates don’t prevent the spread of influenza. This puts everyone in the hospital — especially vulnerable patients not able to get vaccinated — at risk of contracting the flu. The higher the vaccination rate the better everyone is protected.
That wasn’t good enough for Cottage Health, so four years ago, they implemented a groundbreaking new policy. If an employee declined the flu vaccine, they not only have to sign a written declination, they’re also required to wear a mask at all times during flu season (Nov 1- March 31).
Along with this policy change, Cottage Health launched creative campaigns to encourage getting the flu shot. This year, inspired by the new Ghostbusters movie, nurses became “flubusters” and spread the message to all employees that they “ain’t afraid of no flu.” Instead of hosting a large flu clinic where people could receive a flu shot, Cottage Health moved to a public health model, bringing the flu shot to where it was needed. Weekly email newsletters to all Cottage Health employees gave updates on where they could find the vaccine and other tips to help prevent the flu.
Through these changes, Cottage has seen their vaccination rate climb to an impressive 95% of all employees.
What’s important about this high vaccination rate is that it truly protects vulnerable people and helps maintain a healthy community. Some people cannot receive the flu shot, due to weakened immune systems or other medical reasons. But if 95% or more of the people around them are vaccinated, it creates a cocoon of safety, protecting patients.
We congratulate Cottage Health for this achievement in promoting a healthier community for us all.