A shot (and a beer?)

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Problems with this year's flu shot have contributed to a bad season.
Problems with this year's flu shot have contributed to a bad season.

What would happen if you had a nurse or other direct-care employee who refused to make sure his or her hands were clean before working personally with residents?

What if this employee was allowed to leave soiled bed pads, linens or clothing in a resident's room?

Would you allow an employee to wandering your halls, hacking and coughing continually, putting your residents—and fellow workers—at risk?

Of course not, three times over. As a responsible healthcare provider, you simply wouldn't, and shouldn't. So what's all the fuss about flu vaccinations?

Dear long-term care employee, you are working for hours on end around frail and usually elderly individuals. They are more susceptible to contracting and suffering with the flu.

If you want to work here, you will get vaccinated (unless medically contraindicated). Period. If you don't want to do this, or punch in on time, or abide by other standards of conduct, bye-bye. We are a healthcare provider and we will not put our residents unnecessarily at risk.

I could list the many defenses to anticipated objections, except I don't want to. Or have to. You want to work for me, remember?

By the way, I'll assume you would like medical benefits along with employment. Isn't that ironic, that you would demand something that might wind up meaning you need a shot or other medicine, but you would tell me you won't do the same as a proven pre-emptive measure to work here?

I realize that's a lot of question marks for any writer to use. But hopefully the point is clear. Just as people once objected to seatbelt laws — "It's an intrusion on personal rights," "It might wrinkle my clothes," "Studies show you might be safer being thrown from the car" — once you get past the smoke screens, there really is no valid argument against it.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Prevention (APIC) has a new position paper calling for making influenza vaccination "a condition of employment" for healthcare workers in long-term care and other settings.

With it, APIC's scientifically sound committee bridges it with a host of other responsible organizations taking a common sense, ethical stand.

If I were a long-term care employer, you're darn right I'd make the vaccination mandatory. And then I'd market the heck out of the fact that my staff cares so much about its residents it did the only thing that was right for them in this situation.

Is your staff 100% vaccinated? Could you possibly have a good reason not to make this mandatory? Please comment below.


 
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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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