By Linda R. The importance of seasonal influenza vaccine for health care workers and high risk groups has been well documented, yet health care worker HCW influenza vaccination rates have risen only minimally over the past 20 years and are far short of U. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People goals whose target is a 90 percent vaccination rate. One of the fundamental tenets of health care is to care for patients while protecting ourselves from harm.
Too Far or Far Enough? Mandatory Flu Vaccine Policies in Healthcare
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As one healthcare organization faces a DOJ lawsuit for allegedly violating religious rights with its mandatory flu vaccine policy, another explains how it has aimed to keep its toes on the right side of the law. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC recommend that all healthcare workers receive an annual flu vaccine , individual hospitals and health systems have some latitude to devise and implement policies based on their own strategies within the bounds established by state laws. Rajesh Prabhu, MD, an infectious disease specialist and chief patient quality and safety officer for Essentia Health , based in Duluth, Minnesota, says his organization made the decision to switch last fall from a voluntary to a mandatory flu vaccine policy after studying the experiences of other institutions across the nation. Three unions filed legal challenges , and Essentia wound up firing as many as 50 of its more than 14, employees for their failure to comply.