More Than Half of Hospitals Don't Require Flu Shots for Staff

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Wait, WHERE is the flu vaccine not required?

Today in horrifying news, the place you least expect still doesn’t require their employees to get vaccinated against the flu.

Healthcare workers are in constant contact with people especially vulnerable to the flu, yet a new study has found that more than half of hospitals don’t require their doctors, nurses, and other health care providers to get their flu shots.

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Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System reported the results of a 2013 survey in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

The survey asked infection preventionists (that’s an awesome title for people who are responsible for preventing healthcare-related infections in hospitals), what their hospitals’ flu vaccine policies were and why. Instead of a resounding “OBVI WE REQUIRE VACCINATIONS” from all hospitals, they found only 42.7 percent of 386 hospitals actually required flu shots for all employees.

The senior author, Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH, who uncovered these findings say vaccination of healthcare workers is a no-brainer: “Vaccination of healthcare workers has been shown to significantly reduce patients' risk of influenza and its complications, including pneumonia and death, compared with vaccination of patients alone… To put it bluntly, American hospitals have a lot of work to do."

Frequent hospital visits are the norm for many people living with chronic conditions, and this reality puts them at a greater risk of healthcare related infections. Infection preventionists, get on this!

Although, infection preventionists might not all be to blame – concerns about opposition from staff and healthcare worker unions seem to have kept some hospitals from requiring the flu shot, along with a variation in willingness of hospital administration to implement such policies.

But do policies that require flu vaccinations work? The Center for Disease Control say YES. They found through a 2015 survey that such policies yielded a 96 percent vaccination rate. Hospitals without requirements only had a 44 percent vaccination rate.

Even if your employer has not required the flu shot, what are you waiting for? Get the flu shot!

Related: The 9 Stages of Getting the Flu Shot

Source: Less than half of US hospitals require flu shots for staff, despite risk to patients, ScienceDaily