Mandatory Flu Shot Bill Is Reintroduced
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends in a new policy statement that all health care personnel should be required to receive an annual influenza vaccine. The policy, Recommendation for Mandatory Influenza Immunization of All Health Care Personnel, published in the October 2010 print issue of Pediatrics (published online Sept. 13), states that “despite the efforts of many organizations to improve influenza immunization rates with the use of voluntary campaigns, influenza coverage among health care personnel remains unacceptably low.”
About the same time, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) also endorsed mandatory vaccination policies for all health care workers to reduce risk of infection among patients and employees.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices began recommending influenza immunization for health care workers in the early 1980s; however, according to a Rand Corp. survey issued last year, 39 percent of health care professionals said they would not get a flu vaccine, even with the threat of pandemic flu. With that threat over, that rate will likely be even lower this year.
Mandatory influenza immunization for all health care personnel is “ethically justified, necessary and long overdue to ensure patient safety,” the AAP says in their policy statement. Not everyone agrees, however.
This time last year, for example, New York hospitals, university health systems and even the state required that health care workers get the flu vaccine, according to an ABC News Oct. 2, 2009 report. This did not bode well with everyone.
“It makes me feel very vulnerable,” a nurse at a rally held at the state capitol told ABC News affiliate WHAM in Rochester, N.Y. Others said a mandatory vaccination requirement is an infringement of their civil rights.
Vaccine shortages put the policy on hold, but the State of New York Department of Health is writing a permanent regulation to make influenza vaccination a condition of employment for health care personnel, according to Infectious Disease News.
State Sen. Tom Duane, who chairs the health committee, said he is reintroducing a flu shot bill, according to The Epoch Times.
“People don’t like being told what to do, but frankly, if you work in a hospital setting, flu vaccination should be mandatory,” Duane (D-Manhattan) told the New York Daily News. “There will be people mad about it, but I do believe it’s necessary.”