Dayton Children’s makes flu shots mandatory for all employees and volunteers
all employees and volunteers are required to receive flu vaccine this fall
In order to continue to place the health and safety of the region’s kids first, The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton is requiring all of its employees and volunteers to receive the flu vaccine this fall. While the flu vaccine was always encouraged for employees and volunteers at Dayton Children’s, this is the first year that it will be mandatory.
“Maximizing influenza vaccination uptake by all of our employees is an important part of a comprehensive hospital infection-control program” says Sherman Alter MD, medical director of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s. “Employees of healthcare institutions have both an ethical and professional obligation to act in the best interest of their patients and families.”
Beginning September 6, employees and volunteers will be responsible for making sure they receive either the flu shot or flu mist by October 31. Dayton Children’s strives to protect its patients and making the flu vaccine mandatory is just another way to ensure kids are getting the best care possible.
Each year the flu season varies in its severity and some people are at greater risk for complications if they contract the flu virus. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease). Flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, seasonal flu places a large burden on the health and well-being of children and families. About 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized each year because of influenza with complications most common in children younger than 2 years old. Children with chronic health problems like asthma and diabetes are at especially high risk of developing serious flu complications.
“We believe strongly in patient safety,” says Terrie Koss, infection preventionist at Dayton Children’s. “If an employee has the flu and takes care of a child with a pre-existing condition, they are putting that child at risk. It also protects our employees and their families from contracting the flu from the patients that we see.”
The American Hospital Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of Professionals in Infection Control, and the Infectious Disease Society of America all recommend mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers to prevent illness and death in patients and reduce influenza infections among health care workers.
According to the CDC, over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics Dayton Children’s urges that everyone older than 6 months receive the vaccination this year. In recent years, the flu mist has also been made available and persons age 2 through 49 are eligible to receive this alternative to the flu shot. According to the CDC, the seasonal nasal-spray flu vaccine LAIV (FluMist®) reduced the chance of influenza illness by 92 percent.
The national average for the flu vaccine has historically been around 15 percent while in the healthcare field it is 40 percent. In 2010, employees at Dayton Children’s were strongly encouraged to receive the vaccine and the hospital saw a 96 percent participation rate.
“There are many other vaccines that are mandatory for all staff on a pre-placement basis,” says Becky Mann, employee health manager at Dayton Children’s. “No one has an objection for getting these vaccines when beginning a new job. Now the influenza vaccine will be included in this. If an employee is not vaccinated by October 31 without a documented and legitimate reason, they will be terminated.”
Dr. Alter agrees, “Voluntary hospital influenza vaccination programs are not sufficient to increase the vaccine coverage among the healthcare population. Mandatory annual employee influenza immunization places the health and safety of the patient first!”
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