Vaccinate healthcare workers first to stem spread of influenza, Joint Commission says

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The Joint Commission, an independent healthcare accreditation and certification organization, on Wednesday released guidance for increased healthcare worker influenza vaccinations.

The Joint Commission's new guidance is designed to help reduce the overall spread of seasonal influenza. [Note: It does not address immunization strategies for H1N1, also known as the swine flu.] Among the strategies laid out in the guidance is the notion that healthcare workers should be inoculated soon after a vaccine become available. The Joint Commission suggests that, while inoculations among the general public tend to peak in November of each year, healthcare workers should get vaccinated much earlier, ideally before October.

In related news, recent reports show that H1N1 is spreading among healthcare workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last Thursday that as many as 81 healthcare workers have tested positive for swine flu. On Tuesday, officials confirmed that a nursing home resident in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador had contracted the disease. Because nursing homes are typically closed settings, it is likely that a visitor or a healthcare worker brought the disease into the facility, according to Canadian health ministers.

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