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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Recognizing the dramatic effect healthcare worker immunization has on reducing influenza outbreaks and associated complications, the board of directors of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) voted to endorse mandatory influenza vaccination for healthcare professionals who have direct contact with patients.
As stewards of patient safety, our nations healthcare professionals exemplify the axiom first do not harm, said APIC president Sue Sebazco, RN, BS, CIC. So it concerns APIC that a mere 36 percent of these professionals opt for vaccination.
Noting that voluntary programs are falling short, Sebazco said it was time to address the issue of mandatory immunization.
Even those healthcare facilities that promote immunization through aggressive voluntary campaigns show that 30 percent to 50 percent of healthcare workers remain unvaccinated, Sebazco added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the U.S. alone, influenza kills an average of 36,000 people 90 percent of whom are elderly -- and hospitalizes more 114,000 annually. Since 1981, the CDC has recommended influenza vaccination for all healthcare workers.
The facts prove that vaccination of healthcare professionals results in improved patient and employee safety and lessens the economic burden of influenza-related expenditures, Sebazco concluded. It is time to do more to require healthcare professionals to be immunized against influenza annually.