Mandatory flu shots in healthcare workers should become policy
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for mandatory flu shots for all healthcare workers this week. This organization is the latest of several groups who are calling for the same thing. The other groups include the National Patient Safety Foundation, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Society of Healthcare Epidemiologists.
Last year’s vaccination rate in healthcare workers was very low, especially in the face of the swine flu pandemic, with 37 percent of health care workers receiving the swine flu vaccination. Only 35 percent received both the seasonal and swine flu vaccinations. Some studies have shown that patients can and do get flu from those who care for them and even those who may put food on their trays and never even see the patient.
Nurses represent the lowest percentage in flu shots.
The profession of nursing has long been one that is respected among patients and communities for their knowledge, caring, education, and example. However, in this instance, nurses represent the lowest percentage in obtaining flu shots. To get a higher number of people to get their flu shots, to help prevent spread of flu, nurses must get their flu shots. Nurses are looked up to and many follow their examples. It is an ethical and professional responsibility.
Some of the reasons given by many healthcare workers for not getting their vaccinations are worries about safety and effectiveness, workers believing they are not at risk for getting the flu, and even sometimes cited is the fear of needle. Education is the key here. With an increased understanding of how the flu vaccination is beneficial more may begin to get the flu shot each year.
The American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association have always encouraged getting the shot in doctors and nurses, but it has never been mandatory. However, some vaccinations are and adding the seasonal flu shot to that list should not be a real new thing. The American Academy of Pediatrics states this largely may have to be policies in hospitals and other places in order to show an ethical and professional caring towards those they serve.