Flu Shots & Health Care Staff
As a health care professional, will you be getting your flu shot this year? Flu vaccines for health care workers is a sensitive topic for many. Health care workers are consistently among the CDCs list of high priority targets fore immunization. Yet, many choose not to get the vaccine.
We’ve even seen some states mandate the flu vaccine only to ultimately retract the mandate shortly thereafter. Common reasons for deciding against the flu vaccine include: the myth of getting the flu from the vaccine itself and people simply being against the concept of a mandate. One of the most common reasons I hear for declination of the vaccine is “…the one time I received the vaccine, I got so sick and will never get it again.” (The traditional flu vaccine contains no live virus and therefore cannot give one the flu as a result of the vaccine). Still, a number of health care facilities do in fact, require their staff to receive the vaccine or face the consequence of suspension or even possible termination. Some institutions have even gone so far as to add a sticker identifier to their ID badges of those receiving the vaccine to aid in identification of workers in case of an outbreak (to determine who needs vaccination) and to exert a little peer pressure from other staff and patients as well.
From an infection prevention perspective, flu vaccination for health care workers ranks up there with good hand hygiene and frequent hand washing. It would seem perplexing to patients for health care professionals to advocate for the vaccine yet decline receiving it when it comes to themselves.
It is generally easier than ever to receive a flu vaccine for those wanting it as many places such as pharmacies, supermarkets and of course health facilities, have made them available for either no charge or for up to $30. Some employers have contracted with agencies for their employees to receive on-site flu shots right at work. Finally, some facilities have gone so far as to offer drive through flu clinics!
Every flu season is unpredictable. Good hand hygiene and vaccination are our best defenses against the flu. (And yes, I did get my flu shot).