Ask the Care Expert about ... flu vaccinations

Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA

One of my nurses has refused to get an annual flu vaccine. What should I do?

To protect ourselves as well as the patients that we serve in post-acute care settings, nursing professionals should receive an annual influenza vaccine unless contraindicated. 

While most healthcare professionals comply and receive this critically important vaccine, each year we are still faced with resistors.

Nurses and other healthcare professionals who refuse their annual flu shot can put patients at risk for contracting Influenza infection and the associated complications that can accompany the disease. 

Nursing leaders must enforce a strict adherence to the evidence-based recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for annual flu vaccinations and take all necessary precautions to protect patients and other healthcare professionals from the risk posed by healthcare professionals who refuse to receive the vaccine. 

Some facilities require those who do not receive the vaccine to wear a mask throughout flu season while others do not allow these professionals to work in clinical care settings at all during flu season. 

Recently, several acute-care facilities have started enforcing zero tolerance for non-compliance with annual flu shots, which can result in termination of employment in some cases.

Our most important obligation as nursing professionals is to protect our patients from harm and receiving our annual flu shot is one simple infection control and risk reduction intervention that we can all take.