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On behalf of healthcare workers nationwide, the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP) has released a Position Statement on Best Practices for Healthcare Worker Immunizations. AOHP advises that healthcare employers adopt practices ensuring healthcare workers are assessed for immunization status and properly immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.
AOHP's Position Statement is based on a thorough review of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ACIP comprises medical and public health experts who develop recommendations on the use of vaccines in the civilian population of the United States. These recommendations stand as public health guidance for safe use of vaccines and related biological products.
"AOHP is committed to promoting recommended immunizations for healthcare workers and the Standards for Adult Immunization Practice in healthcare organizations represented by AOHP members," explains AOHP executive president Mary Bliss, RN, COHN. "These vaccines, which protect both healthcare workers and their patients, should be offered at no charge and must comply with state and federal regulations."
Specific vaccine recommendations included in the AOHP Position Statement include:
• Hepatitis B
• MMR - Measles, Mumps, Rubella
• Varicella - Chicken Pox
• Tdap/Td - Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
• Neisseria Meningitidis - Meningococcus (Meningitis)
In many cases, AOHP recommends that healthcare workers who refuse recommended immunizations should be required to provide a declination statement and not be engaged in direct or indirect patient care. With regard to influenza, AOHP advocates that healthcare workers should be vaccinated annually and asks healthcare administrators to consider a policy that makes annual influenza vaccination mandatory (with medical exemptions) or offer alternatives to vaccination such as requiring the use of surgical masks for patient care by healthcare workers who refuse the vaccine.