Mandatory Flu Vaccine Pushed for Healthcare Providers
Infectious disease experts say all healthcare providers should accept the flu vaccine or accept unemployment. The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) believes it is a responsibility for workers in health care settings to follow policies. The group also thinks those policies should be strong, and they’re pushing for “attention and action”
SHEA says mandatory flu vaccine, even for healthcare workers not directly caring for patients, should be enforced.
Mandatory flu vaccine for health care providers is also supported by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Richard Whitley, MD, president of IDSA says, "Given the debate that surrounded mandatory healthcare personnel vaccination during the last influenza season, we support and applaud SHEA for issuing a strong and unequivocal statement about the critical importance of healthcare personnel vaccination."
Group says Mandatory Flu Vaccine would Save Lives
The epidemiology experts say mandatory flu vaccine would save lives and should be given even to healthcare personnel not in direct contact with patients. That includes students, volunteers and contract workers not employed by patient care facilities. The statement is in preparation for the upcoming flu season.
Flu season 2010 is being targeted as one of the worse in history from H1N1. Voluntary vaccination was met with little response.
To solve the issue of non-compliance, the SHEA group suggests flu vaccine should not be a choice for health care personnel. A survey from the RAND Corporation found that 39 percent of health workers had no intention of getting vaccinated in 2009, despite declaration of an H1N1 flu pandemic.
Dr. Whitley says strong policies mandating flu vaccine for healthcare personnel are needed. "Vaccination of healthcare personnel saves patients' lives and reduces illness. It also protects the individual worker from falling ill during influenza outbreaks and from missing work, which further impacts patient care.” He says there is scientific evidence that the risk and spread of flu can be reduced by forcing healthcare workers to take the vaccine or face unemployment.
The physician group says flu prevention needs a comprehensive approach that includes mandatory flu vaccine for health care providers, handwashing, cough hygiene, limiting visitors, isolation of infected patients and use of protective equipment.