APIC Supports Mandatory Influenza Vaccination of Healthcare Workers

In honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) Dec. 4-10, 2011, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) urges the public to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu.  APIC encourages and supports mandatory influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel (HCP).

NIVW is a U.S. government observance that highlights the importance of flu vaccination to public health.

According to a study published in the August 2011 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), only 46.7 percent of healthcare providers surveyed had an influenza vaccination.[1]  Immunization is vital to controlling the spread of influenza. Healthcare personnel can spread the infection to patients and other HCP before symptoms are apparent.

Healthcare providers working in close proximity to patients should be required to receive influenza immunization as a condition of employment, says APIC 2011 president Russell Olmsted, MPH, CIC.  Those who choose not to get vaccinated put all patients at risk.

Influenza is a highly contagious disease that is associated with an estimated 3,000 to 49,000 deaths per year. Vaccination is the most effective way to decrease the transmission of the flu.  Mandatory vaccination programs have proven to be the single most effective strategy to increase HCP influenza vaccination rates.

APICs recommendations are published in a position paper released this year, 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 HCP.

More information about National Influenza Vaccination Week is available at http://www.flu.gov/news/nivw.html