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APIC: Make Flu Shots Mandatory for Health Care Workers

The APIC becomes the latest professional society to call for mandatory influenza immunizations for health care workers as requirement for employment.

Another professional society is now calling for mandatory influenza immunization for health care workers as a requirement for being employed, except those with medical contraindications.

Responding to the low rates of influenza immunization among healthcare personnel nationwide, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is recommending mandatory influenza immunization as a condition of employment within healthcare facilities. In citing its stronger position, APIC acknowledged that the current policy of voluntary vaccination has not been effective and that healthcare personnel have not achieved acceptable vaccination rates.

The recommendations—which are published in APIC’s newly-released position paper, “Influenza Vaccination Should Be a Condition of Employment for Healthcare Personnel, Unless Medically Contraindicated”—apply to acute care hospitals, long-term care and other facilities that employ health care personnel.

Influenza results in an estimated 150,000 hospital admissions and 24,000 deaths annually. In addition to their risk for exposure to influenza from community sources, healthcare personnel (HCP) are at an increased risk for acquiring influenza due to exposure to ill patients. Conversely, those patients who are at greatest risk of developing severe complications of influenza are themselves more likely to be exposed to potentially infectious HCP.

Therefore, one of the most important strategies to decrease influenza transmission to or from high risk persons is to immunize healthcare personnel. According to the statement, mandatory vaccination programs have proven to be the single most effective strategy to increase influenza vaccination rates among health workers.

“We took a firmer stance on this issue because it is clear that voluntary efforts are not working,” said Linda R. Greene, RN, MPS, CIC, lead author of APIC’s position paper and director of infection prevention and control at Rochester General Health System, in a press release. “Several studies now demonstrate that influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel reduces patient mortality. As infection preventionists, we have an ethical responsibility to protect those individuals entrusted to our care. We must do a better job of immunizing healthcare workers every year to ensure patient safety and protect those individuals at high risk of developing complications of influenza.”

The APIC paper states that this requirement should be part of a comprehensive strategy incorporating all of the recommendations of the CDC Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and ACIP for influenza vaccination of health care professionals.

For more:

  • Healthcare Personnel Vaccination Recommendations
  • Influenza Immunization among Health Care Workers
  • Vaccinating health care workers against influenza: the ethical and legal rationale for a mandate (American Journal of Public Health)
  • Mandating influenza vaccination for health care workers: Putting patients and professional ethics over personal preference (Vaccine)
  • Determinants of intention to get vaccinated against novel (pandemic) influenza A H1N1 among health-care workers in a nationwide survey (Journal of Infection)