Safety

Weekly tip: Requiring mandatory flu shots

Hospital Safety Insider, October 13, 2011

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In April, the American Hospital Association's (AHA) board of trustees approved a new policy urging its members to institute a mandatory flu shot policy for healthcare workers. To protect the lives and welfare of patients and employees, the AHA said it "supports mandatory patient safety policies that require either influenza vaccination or wearing a mask in the presence of patients across healthcare settings during flu season."

Workers need to know why hospitals are requiring mandatory vaccination, says Deborah L. Wexler, MD, executive director of the Immunization Action Coalition in Saint Paul, MN, so they don't feel this is something foisted upon them with no good reason. "Education is a key component of this," she says.

"I think it's going to take a true major [flu] outbreak in our country for some healthcare workers to heed the warning. They don't perceive themselves at risk. They don't see it as a patient safety issue," says Libby Chinnes, RN, BSN, CIC, an independent infection control consultant with IC Solutions, LLC, based in Mt. Pleasant, SC, who assists healthcare facilities nationwide.

One way for hospitals to get healthcare workers to acknowledge the risks to patients is to have them sign a declination form, says Chinnes. The form requires workers to confirm in writing that they understand by not getting a flu shot they may be placing patients under their care at risk of contracting influenza, she adds.

For other useful tips, read Briefings on Hospital Safety, part of the Hospital Safety Center. Log-in required.



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