PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – State officials are concerned about an upcoming spread of influenza after a report confirmed that the vaccination rate among Oregon healthcare workers has dropped 26 percent in three years.

According to OHA, 83 percent of healthcare workers received influenza shots in the 2019-2020 season, but that number dropped to 63 percent during the 2021-2022 season.

Oregon’s dialysis workers had the most dramatic decline in flu vaccination rates: During the 2018-2019 season, 91 percent received the vaccine, but that number dropped 70 percent last year to 27 percent of workers with vaccinations.

Meanwhile, ambulatory surgery center vaccination numbers changed the least, with 81 percent of workers receiving vaccines during the 2019-2020 flu season dropping to 75 percent during the 2021-2022 season.

Dr. Rebecca Pierce, the HAI Program manager at the OHA’s Public Health Division, said it’s imperative that healthcare workers receive flu vaccinations to protect their patients.

“People receiving care in hospitals and other medical settings are at high risk of infection and severe outcomes – including death – from the flu,” Pierce said.

However, Pierce said the focus on COVID-19 since its outbreak in 2020 could be a factor for the decrease.

“They were coming off very quiet flu activity during the pandemic, so motivation to get vaccinated may have waned as they were prioritizing getting their COVID-19 shots,” Pierce said.