This year my hospital is mandating that all physicians and employees receive their flu shot or they will be required to wear a protective face mask while in the hospital, at all times, as a way to protect our patients from exposure to the flu virus. Some states require hospital workers to get vaccinated or sign a waiver and wear a mask. And some hospitals are mandating the flu shot as a condition of employment. In fact, just recently, one hospital gave termination notices to employees without a valid excuse for not getting vaccinated. These employees had the opportunity to get their jobs back by complying with the flu vaccine requirement.
The flu shot vaccine is the same this year as it was last year. Protection will never be 100% and you can still get the flu despite having the flu vaccine. For 2010-1011, the CDC says the flu vaccine was 60% effective for all age groups combined.
Despite the less than perfect track record for immunization, I think mandatory flu shots are a great idea, especially since many physicians tend to work through their viral illness instead of staying home. Nobody is paying them when they stay home.
With infection control in mind, it's also time to mandate no white coats, no dirty cell phones in the hospital, no stethoscopes, no privacy curtains and no ties, all things that are known to harbor organisms that can cause deadly disease.
What do you think? Should hospitals mandate flu shots for all health care workers? I wonder what the ACLU and lawyers have to say about mandatory flu shots for hospital employees and other health care workers that come in contact with patients. I forgot to add that Medicare may start witholding money from hospitals in 2016 that don't meet defined immunization rates for their health care workers. Just one more reason to get vaccinated if you're a healthcare worker in a hospital environment.