State health officials say about one in five employees at the state's acute care hospitals didn't get flu shots during the most recent season, exposing patients to a heightened risk of infection.
The Public Health Department's report released Wednesday said the 81 percent vaccination rate increased from a statewide average of about 71 percent the previous season, but fell short of the 90 percent goal.
It also reopened the debate about mandating flu shots for hospital workers.
State rules require hospital workers to be vaccinated or sign a form declining the shot. The rules allow for medical and religious exemptions.
The Boston Globe reports that some hospitals have made flu vaccinations a condition of employment.
Newton-Wellesley Hospital had the highest rate, while Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport had the lowest.
This program aired on May 10, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.