National Patient Safety Foundation Supports Mandatory Flu Vaccine for Healthcare Workers

The National Patient Safety Foundation has re-issued a position statement initially released in 2009 in support of mandatory influenza vaccination for healthcare workers. The statement reads as follows:

"The National Patient Safety Foundation recognizes vaccine-preventable diseases as a matter of patient safety and supports mandatory influenza vaccination of healthcare workers to protect the health of patients, healthcare workers, and the community. NPSF appreciates that where vaccination is not possible for any reason, due to unavailability or medical contraindications of potential vaccine recipients, hospitals and healthcare professionals must use all available alternatives to avoid transmission to patients and coworkers, including use of masks and adjustment of job responsibilities.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all U.S. healthcare workers get influenza vaccinations annually. NPSF formally adopted this position in November 2009 in light of strong evidence showing that requiring the flu vaccine contributes to patient and staff safety. Since then, NPSF and the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute have elevated influenza vaccination to the level of a “must do” activity for healthcare workers.

"According to CDC survey data, healthcare personnel who did not intend to get vaccinated during the 2014-2015 flu season most commonly gave as reasons that (1) they don’t think that flu vaccines work; and (2) they don’t need the vaccine.

"In fact, everyone is susceptible to flu infection, including those who are otherwise healthy. Furthermore, those who are infected can spread the disease a full day before they themselves show symptoms. While the effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary from year to year, vaccination reduces the risk of more serious flu outcomes and may make the illness milder in those who were vaccinated but still get sick.

"Another persistent myth is that people who receive the influenza vaccination may get sick from it. The influenza vaccine cannot give anyone the flu. Vaccines are made with inactivated (i.e., not infectious) flu vaccine viruses or with no flu vaccine viruses at all (called recombinant influenza vaccine). In randomized, blinded studies, other than increased soreness/redness at the site of the vaccine, there was no difference in outcomes among those who received a flu vaccination and those who received a saline injection."

The CDC website provides the following findings from its survey of healthcare professionals about the 2014-2015 flu season:
• Overall, 77.3% of healthcare workers surveyed reported having received a flu vaccination.
• Vaccination rates were highest in hospitals (90.4%), and lowest in long-term care facilities (63.9%).
• Vaccination coverage was highest among those who were required by their employer to be vaccinated (96.0%).
• Among those workers without an employer requirement for vaccination, coverage was higher in settings where vaccination was offered on-site at no cost for 1 day (73.6%) or multiple days (83.9%) and lowest in settings where vaccine was neither required, promoted, nor offered on-site (44.0%).

The CDC has created a toolkit to assist long-term care facilities in increasing the number of staff who get vaccinated. Visit cdc.gov/flu for detailed information about influenza, the vaccine, and the current flu season.

 Source: National Patient Safety Foundation 

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