Responding to the low rates of influenza immunization among healthcare personnel nationwide, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has strengthened its earlier position on this issue by 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 are published in APICs newly released position paper, "Influenza Vaccination Should Be a Condition of Employment for Healthcare Personnel, Unless Medically Contraindicated." These recommendations apply to acute care hospitals, long-term care and other facilities that employ healthcare personnel (HCP).
Influenza, a highly contagious disease that can be spread before symptoms appear, results in an estimated 150,000 hospital admissions and 24,000 deaths annually. The most efficient way to decrease transmission of the illness to or from high-risk persons, such as hospitalized patients, is through vaccination of HCP. Mandatory vaccination programs have proven to be the single most effective strategy to increase HCP influenza vaccination rates.
"We took a firmer stance on this issue because it is clear that voluntary efforts are not working," says Linda R. Greene, RN, MPS, CIC, lead author of APICs position paper and director of infection prevention and control at Rochester General Health System. "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 Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee(HICPAC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for influenza vaccination of HCP.