Healthcare workers losing jobs over flu vaccine refusals, despite data from nursing home studies

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Long-term care workers 'the worst' when it comes to flu vaccine
Long-term care workers 'the worst' when it comes to flu vaccine

Some healthcare workers have lost their jobs for refusing the flu vaccine, sparking controversy as the 2013 flu season officially reached epidemic status.

In the last two months, at least 15 healthcare workers in four states have been fired and others have resigned over their refusal to be vaccinated, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Healthcare workers oppose getting vaccinated for a variety of reasons, including allergies and doubtfulness about the vaccine's efficacy. However, studies in nursing homes provide strong evidence that vaccination of healthcare workers correlates to fewer deaths of those in their care, said Carolyn Bridges, associate director for adult immunization at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to the AP.

The CDC announced Friday the seasonal influenza reached epidemic status during the week of Dec. 30-Jan. 5, based on the proportion of deaths (7.3%) attributed to the flu or pneumonia in the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System.

The American College of Physicians issued a policy recommendation Monday that not only recommends healthcare providers get immunized against influenza, but also receive shots for hepatitis B and pertussis (whooping cough). The latter vaccine also has been recommended for seniors.

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