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New study highlights importance of flu shots for you, your staff
e-Reports, Nov. 7, 2011
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During these fall months, you are probably urging patients to get a flu shot, but are you taking your own advice?

Nationally, not enough health care providers are being vaccinated against influenza, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overall last year, only 63.5 percent of health care workers received a flu shot.

Flu Shot chart 

The study also revealed about 13 percent of respondents were required by their employers to be vaccinated for influenza. One Indiana example is Deaconess Women’s Hospital in Newburgh.

In 2008, hospital officials required employees with patient contact to show proof of immunizations, including influenza, as part of a patient safety effort. Two years later, the policy expanded to include all employees. Going into its fourth flu vaccine season, the facility has a 98 percent compliance rate.

“Many employees tell us they don’t get sick and don’t need a flu shot,” said Sonya Mauzey, R.N., infection preventionist at Deaconess Women’s Hospital. “But you can have what is called a subclinical or mild infection and unknowingly expose someone to flu.”

Mauzey noted that many southern Indiana hospitals are or will be implementing mandatory influenza vaccine policies for all employees – some will include staff physicians. She credits educational efforts and readily accessible vaccine for the hospital’s high compliance rate.

“We had some pushback the first year we implemented this policy,” Mauzey noted. “It’s an ethical issue. Our leadership supported it because it was the right thing to do to protect patients.”

Others agree with mandate
The AMA supports “a professional ethical obligation on the part of physicians to take all reasonable actions to prevent the transmission of disease, including accepting immunization for vaccine-preventable diseases.”

The policy also emphasizes physicians are role models and should set an example by being immunized for vaccine-preventable diseases.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has published a policy statement recommending mandatory influenza immunization of all health care personnel, and cites specific cases of patient harm from unvaccinated providers.

Find the policy here.

See the CDC study on their website.

Ten professional associations support required influenza immunizations for health care providers as a means to protect patients and reduce the transmission of influenza in the health care setting.
They are:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Public Health Association
  • American Medical Directors Association
  • Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology
  • Infectious Disease Society of America
  • National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
  • National Patient Safety Foundation
  • Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
  • American Pharmacists Association
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