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Flu Shots: Mandatory or Voluntary for Healthcare Employees?

Since the outbreak of swine flu, a controversy has been brewing in the healthcare field. Some hospitals have changed their policies of voluntary flu vaccination for their employees to making vaccination mandatory. Some healthcare workers believe it a heavy-handed move by employers to require vaccination. Nevertheless, several hospitals have moved in that direction.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a study was published on the issue this week in the journal, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. It was endorsed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and was written by representatives of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology.

The authors take the position that hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices should make getting an annual flu shot a condition of new and continued employment. There would be an exception for a healthcare worker who has a valid medical reason not to get the vaccination. The authors believe that the low risk of complication from a flu vaccination is worth the benefits that healthcare facilities would enjoy by having all healthcare workers vaccinated.

The study states that the spread of flu and deaths from complications of the flu are both reduced when all healthcare workers in a hospital are immunized. In the event of pandemic flu, there would also be more healthy workers on hand to staff the hospital. The authors also point out that there is a legal precedent for mandatory flu vaccination because healthcare workers are already required to undergo annual testing for tuberculosis and provide documentation of being up to date with other vaccinations.


Healthcare workers should get a flu shot or lose their jobs, two health groups say (Los Angeles Times)