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A shot in the arm for forced flu immunization argument

A short and to-the-point appeal for mandating flu shots for healthcare workers appeared in the September 27 Boulder Daily Camera. The editorial, which is an excerpt from one that appeared recently in the Minnesota Star Tribune, makes the case in less time than it takes to roll up your sleeve, receive the flu shot, and, hopefully, watch the needle be safely disposed—once a safety geek, always a safety geek, I suppose. Here is the editorial:

Mandate flu shots for health workers

Imagine your reaction if you watched a loved one wheeled into surgery, then saw staff preparing to operate without masks, sterile gowns, and gloves.

No one questions these basic protections against infection. Nor do individual staffers get to decide if they want to suit up for patient safety. If employees don’t feel like wearing a mask, they don’t get past the operating room door.

And yet when it comes to another critical patient-safety measure — influenza vaccines for healthcare workers — medical centers across the nation are shockingly hesitant to mandate the protection of those cared for within their walls.

A growing number of influential medical organizations are calling for mandatory shots for workers — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, and the National Patient Safety Foundation. Despite this, institutions that should know better remain skittish about a mandate. The American Nurses Association backs away from enforcement of a mandatory policy.

Hospitals require some vaccinations, such as the shot protecting against measles, mumps, and rubella. In addition, many healthcare workers are tested for tuberculosis. Requiring the flu shot is a necessary and sensible step whose time has come.

Click here to read the full editorial and accompanying comments. [1]

Still straddling the fence on mandatory flu shots, or are your feet firmly planted on the opposing side? Let us know in the comment section below.

[2]Navigate the sticky issues around mandatory flu shots [2]
Seasonal and H1N1 influenza have prompted many healthcare facilities to consider mandatory influenza immunization for employees. The reaction from employees has been unmistakably vocal, as issues of patient safety and workers’ rights clash. HCPro’s Mandatory Influenza Vaccinations: Get Healthcare Staff Onboard at Your Facility [2], a 90-minute on-demand webcast will provide you with the medical and organizational perspectives for developing a mandatory influenza immunization policy.