Federal recommendations inch toward mandatory flu shots

By: February 13th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

A federal panel of vaccine advisors proposed recommendations that could lead to mandatory influenza vaccinations for healthcare workers.

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) received a report on February 7 from the Health Care Personnel Influenza Vaccination Subgroup following the publishing of draft recommendations and the public comment period beginning last November, according to CIDRAP News.

Recommendations approved by the majority of the working group say that healthcare facilities should continue to establish among workers flu prevention education, integrated vaccination programs, and standardized vaccination rate reporting, according to CIDRAP.

The report also says that facilities failing to achieve and maintain a 90% worker vaccination rate with voluntary measures “should strongly consider requiring mandatory flu vaccination,” reports CIDRAP.

The NVAC recommendations now go to the Department of Health and Human Services.


By Christina M. on February 14th, 2012 at 10:54 am

Mandatory? That’s an absolute outrage. So I guess people are going to have to choose: their job or what they believe in.

By Melanie Swift, MD on February 14th, 2012 at 10:59 am

As a member of this working group, I wish to clarify. The group was specifically tasked with recommending how to get to 90%, not to comment on whether 90% was worthwhile. NVAC, fortunately, struck the 90% target from the recommendations, as that may not end up being reasonable. Also the recommendation was not for “mandatory flu vaccination” but for an “employer requirement” which specifically may include exemptions such as religious, medical, and personal belief exemptions.

By David LaHoda on February 14th, 2012 at 11:03 am

Thank you Dr. Swift for that clarification.

By Melanie Swift, MD on February 14th, 2012 at 11:12 am

It is important to note that the group recommended efforts to develop better vaccines with better, broader, and more long-lasting immunity. There was broad consensus that we need a better vaccine.

There was also broad consensus that flu vaccine is a good thing for the worker’s own protection, but no enthusiasm to mandate it for self-protection. The only justification for a mandate in this disease would be indirect protection of patients.

There was no consensus on whether the current evidence justifies any sort of coersive vaccination of employees for indirect protection of patients. The available data are from nursing home settings rather than hospitals, and suggest that voluntary HCW vaccine programs may be associated w/lower mortality but not via reduced flu infection in patients.

By Caroline Graber, RN, CIC on February 15th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

It is time for this foolishness to stop!
We are killing patients by not having our health care workers immunized.
We need to step up to the plate and support this!!!!
We must provide a safe environment for our patients and flu shots are an essential part of that.

By Diane Otto, RN on February 15th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

To Caroline Graber – Can you give us some evidence where unimmunized workers have caused patient deaths? I cannot have the vaccines and worry more about me being affected by the patient.

By Madeline Fogg on February 15th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

The stakeholders meeting held by OSHA for the Infectious Disease Standard exempt colds and flu from the dieases in the possible new standard. If OSHA is not concerned or feels it can’t be handled, then healthcare workers should be able to make their own decisions.

By Melanie Swift, MD on February 15th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Ms. Graber, I submit to you that “We are killing patients” is the most extreme hyperbole. Language like that only insults and angers people and stops productive dialogue. Give your colleagues a little credit.

Are we “killing patients” if we allow an unvaccinated grandchild to visit granny in the hospital and give her a hug?

As a CIC, are you equally adamant that we can and must do active surveillance on HA-flu so that we can measure what effect our policies have?


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