Infectious Diseases Specialists Support Mandatory HCW Vaccination, Survey Shows

Philip Polgreen, MD, MPH, from the Department of Internal Medicine at Carver College of Medicine, and colleagues, report results of a survey they conducted of 1,326 infectious diseases specialists who are part of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)'s Emerging Infections Network. A 14-question survey was sent to this membership in December 2009. Of the 668 infectious diseases specialists who responded, 460 (68.9 percent) reported that they were involved in the influenza vaccination program at their healthcare institutions. Their findings were reported in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Polgreen, et al. (2010) say that almost 90 percent of survey respondents said they believed that influenza vaccination should be required for all healthcare workers and that healthcare professionals who refuse to be vaccinated should be required to sign a declination statement, while 74 percent said they believed healthcare worker influenza vaccination rates should be reported publicly as a measure of patient safety. The researchers also report that 37 percent of respondents said their healthcare institutions required influenza vaccination of healthcare workers. Of the 364 hospitals that did not require vaccination, the majority were either considering or attempting such a requirement.

Polgreen, et al. (2010) note, "The inability to achieve desired vaccination coverage of healthcare workers through voluntary approaches and interventions, along with the recently reported successes of mandatory programs, has increased enthusiasm for mandatory approaches. In fact, a majority of the physicians in our survey responded that their hospitals considered or attempted influenza vaccination requirements for HCWs for the past influenza season. Our results confirm another recent report from a single center indicating general support for mandatory vaccination among healthcare workers. However, given that the meaning of 'mandatory' appears to have different interpretations in different institutions, the success of mandatory influenza vaccination programs may depend largely on the enforcement mechanisms implemented and the consequences for healthcare workers refusing influenza vaccination."

Reference: Polgreen PM, Septimus E, Talbot TR, Beekmann SE and Helms C. Results of a National Survey of Infectious Diseases Specialists regarding Influenza Vaccination Programs for Healthcare Workers. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2010;31:10631065.

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