At last count, 47 states were having “flu emergencies,” with a marked increase of reported influenza cases compared to recent years. So it’s time for me to share one of my pet peeves again: influenza immunizations for healthcare workers.
This came back into the public arena again earlier this month when ABC News ran a story about eight employees who were fired from an Indiana hospital because they refused this year’s flu shot. A former president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases was reportedly quoted as saying “I cannot think of a reason for any health care professional to decline influenza immunization that’s valid.” A bit of a strong statement, but one I wholeheartedly agree with!
I feel that it is unconscionable for healthcare workers to put the at-risk population we care for in jeopardy of acquiring a potentially life threatening illness due to our “right” to refuse immunization. That said, what about religious convictions? What about our right to decide what is “best” for us?
Who is responsible if a significant adverse reaction occurs to a healthcare worker that was “forced” to be immunized? I believe the benefits of yearly influenza immunization far outweigh the risks. Many of our employees who declined the vaccine earlier this year have now decided to get it. I wonder what that means about their initial reasons for refusal. What do you think?