Photo Credit – CDC PHIL
Today the American College of Physicians (ACP) – the second largest physician group in the United States – issued a statement supporting the immunization of all health care workers against influenza, along with a variety of other vaccine-preventable communicable diseases (including diphtheria; hepatitis B; measles, mumps, and rubella; pertussis (whooping cough); and varicella.
Their policy recommendations fall short of calling for across-the-board `mandatory’ vaccinations, as they do allow for exemptions due to medical reasons or religious objections to immunization.
While strongly advocating influenza vaccination for HCPs, the CDC has stopped short of mandating them. I blogged on this back in June of 2010 (see CDC: Proposed Influenza Infection Control Guidance).
Many professional medical organizations have taken a stronger stance, adopting policies calling for mandatory vaccination of health care workers (HCWs). A few earlier blogs on this include:
This latest call for flu vaccination comes as the first state-mandated flu vaccine requirement for HCWs – see Rhode Island Adopts New Flu Vaccination Requirements For HCPs - is being contested by a healthcare worker’s union in court.
This from AMEDNEWS.COM.
A union is suing Rhode Island over a regulation requiring all health workers to receive influenza vaccine or wear masks while they’re working.
By Alicia Gallegos, amednews staff. Posted Jan. 14, 2013.
The Rhode Island Dept. of Health is asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging its recently issued mandate that health care employees receive the influenza vaccine.
While many infection control experts see mandatory immunization a necessary and long overdue step in patient and co-worker protection, this is a hugely divisive issue, with many HCWs believing that it is an infringement of their rights to decide what will be injected into their bodies.
I’ve covered HCW’s objections to forced flu shots in the past, including:
Despite recent studies showing that flu shots provide only about 60% protection against influenza, many hospitals see this as both a liability and an economic issue, on top of their concerns over patient welfare.
Which is why – despite protests from some employees – an increasing number of hospitals and medical offices are making flu vaccination mandatory over the past few years. A couple of recent examples include:
Hospital's 'Cocoon Strategy' Aimed At Protecting Young Patients
Here is the ACP link, and some excerpts, from today’s press release:
40,000 to 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year in the U.S.
PHILADELPHIA, January 14, 2013 -- The American College of Physicians (ACP) has approved a policy recommendation that all health care providers (HCPs) be immunized against influenza; diphtheria; hepatitis B; measles, mumps, and rubella; pertussis (whooping cough); and varicella (chickenpox) according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Adult Immunization Schedule. ACP’s policy exempts HCPs for medical reasons or a religious objection to immunization.
“These transmissible infectious diseases represent a threat to health care providers and the patients we serve, who are often highly vulnerable to infection,” said David L. Bronson, MD, FACP, president, ACP. “Proper immunization safely and effectively prevents a significant number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths among patients as well as preventing workplace disruption and medical errors by absent workers due to illness.”
With a severe flu season underway, ACP urges all adults to get a flu shot if they haven’t already and to talk with their internist about other immunizations they might need. Only 39 percent of adults received the flu vaccine during the 2011-12 season. People who cannot get a flu shot or other immunizations for medical reasons should talk to their internist about other ways of protecting themselves.
ACP is committed to improving public health through encouraging appropriate immunization of adults. In August 2012, ACP was awarded an initial $175,000 of a total $525,000 grant for 2012-13 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a three-year, evidence-based program to increase adult immunization rates in five states. In addition, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) approved practice improvement credit for the Medical Home Builder adult immunization module for recertifying physicians.
Popular among HCWs or not – short of an overturn in the courts – the requirement for annual flu vaccinations in HCPs continues to gain traction across the country, and around the world.