Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physician argues for mandatory flu shots for health care workers

Date:
November 14, 2013
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
Should flu vaccines be mandatory for health care workers? A new article argues both sides of the debate.

Should flu vaccines be mandatory for health care workers? That's the question raised this week in the British Medical Journal to two researchers, including Penn Medicine's Amy J. Behrman, MD, in a "Head to Head" piece that argues both sides of the debate.

Behrman, the medical director of Occupational Medicine Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and associate professor of Emergency Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, believes that mandatory vaccination is needed to protect vulnerable patients, while an emergency department nurse from Vancouver General Hospital in Canada argues that evidence on effectiveness is not sufficient to over-ride health care workers' right to choose.

Both authors cite past studies and raise ethical issues to make their case.

Influenza vaccines are not only estimated to prevent thousands of hospital admissions and millions of illnesses annually, but they are also safe and have the greatest protective effect in healthy non-elderly adults, precisely the demographic of most health care workers, Behrman states.

For this reason, vaccinating hospital staff can improve patient safety, as well as protecting health care workers. Mandatory staff vaccination help protect patients who are at the highest risk for influenza complications and most likely to be in a hospital setting: elderly people, infants, patients with heart and lung disease, and patients with compromised immune systems.

"Health care institutions should maximize the use and benefit of a vaccine that is moderately effective, extremely safe, and logically likely to reduce the risk of healthcare acquired influenza for vulnerable patients as well as decrease illness among health care workers," Behrman writes. "First do no harm."

Ideally, workers will take individual responsibility for being fully immunized, but when that does not occur, health care institutions have an ethical obligation to intervene, just as they do to optimize hand washing and minimize surgical site errors, she said.

In 2009, the University of Pennsylvania Health System approved a mandatory policy for all staff, after extensive efforts to improve voluntary immunization rates were insufficient, and after an internal survey on attitudes toward immunization mandates found overwhelming medical staff support.

The health care provider from Vancouver General Hospital, on the other hand, argues that vaccinating health care workers has not been shown to reduce the transmission of influenza to patients by rigorous criteria. A recent Cochrane review of five studies found no evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza or its complications in individuals in long term care, and thus no evidence to mandate compulsory vaccination, he states.

He also notes that the vaccine often only imparts partial immunity and may last for less than the entire flu season.

Health care workers, according to him, should protect patients from influenza by isolating people with symptoms of respiratory infection, improving infection control, covering coughs, washing hands, and staying home when sick. For him, influenza vaccination should remain a personal decision until there is more persuasive evidence.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Behrman, W. Offley. Should influenza vaccination be mandatory for healthcare workers? BMJ, 2013; 347 (nov12 1): f6705 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f6705

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Physician argues for mandatory flu shots for health care workers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114102601.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2013, November 14). Physician argues for mandatory flu shots for health care workers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114102601.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Physician argues for mandatory flu shots for health care workers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114102601.htm (accessed July 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins