Epidemiologists: Flu vaccines should be condition of health workers' employment

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Vaccination of healthcare professionals is a core patient safety practice that should be a condition of employment at healthcare facilities, a leading infectious disease agency asserted Tuesday.

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America argued strongly for healthcare workers' vaccination in a position paper released Tuesday in the journal Infection Control and Healthcare Epidemiology.

Regardless of whether the worker has direct contact with patients, all those who work in a healthcare setting should be required to get the flu jab, according to SHEA. Only in the case of a medical contradiction should an exception be made, it added.

A RAND survey conducted during the 2009 flu season and H1N1 pandemic indicated that up to 39% of healthcare workers had no intention of getting vaccinated. SHEA officials noted that, not only does vaccination help prevent the spread of influenza to patients, it also reduces the likelihood of the healthcare worker getting sick and missing work, which could also impact patient care.