More hospitals require flu shot for workers
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Main Line Health System in the Philadelphia suburbs has ordered 16,000 doses of flu vaccine to immunize its entire staff. From WHYY's health and science desk, Kerry Grens reports on this growing trend of employers demanding vaccination.
Last year, the University of Pennsylvania's health system and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia initiated their own flu vaccine mandate.
Fishman: It is the ethical responsibliity of healthcare personnel…to prevent the spread of infections in their institution.
Neil Fishman is the director of healthcare epidemiology and infection prevention for Penn's health system. He's also president for the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, which endorses vaccine requirements.
Fishman says Penn went from a vaccination rate of 40 percent to 99 percent, with a handful of employees leaving over the issue. Connie Cutler, the director of infection prevention and control for Main Line Health System, says she's expecting similar compliance.
Cutler: Great majority of them understand that patients don't develop as high a level of immunity against influenza as people with healthy immune systems like our employees do. So it's our way of forming a protective barrier around the susceptible patients.
Not only will doctors and nurses have to get the shot, but office personnel, volunteers, and contract workers too.
Cutler: Anyone who's going to be in the patient care environment and even our employees who are offsite in accounting. We really want this to be a general patient safety exercise system-wide.
Employees are permitted to request medical or religious exemptions. But mandates are nothing new to healthcare providers: many hospitals require vaccines for mumps, measles, rubella, chickenpox, and hepatitis.