One incorrect assumption when it comes to the flu shot and workers in the health care sector is that only people who have direct patient contact need to have a vaccination for the flu. That incorrect assumption can lead to other workers, including maintenance workers, housekeepers, billing specialists, volunteers and other workers, contracting the flu because those workers might not have realized they were at an increased risk of contracting the illness.
When health care workers are vaccinated against communicable illnesses, the benefit isn’t only with the worker. The worker’s family members, other health care workers and patients all benefit from workers having their flu vaccinations.
Many health care facilities have mandatory flu immunization requirements for workers. When no policy is made for flu vaccinations, 43.4 percent of workers receive early flu vaccinations. When a mandatory vaccination policy is in place, 85.5 percent of workers receive an early flu vaccine.
Interestingly, only 54.4 percent of long-term health care facility workers have received a flu vaccination. Pharmacists have the highest percentage of flu vaccinations with 85.8 percent of pharmacists being vaccinated. Aides and assistants ranked lowest for flu shot vaccinations with only 46.6 percent of aides and assistants being vaccinated.
While the flu vaccine is one that is readily available, there are other communicable diseases that don’t have vaccinations that are readily available. It is vital that employers ensure that workers in health care facilities have the personal protective devices necessary to keep the health care workers protected. When those items aren’t available and when proper safety procedures aren’t part of the workplace, workers who suffer from a workplace-related illness might opt to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Influenza Vaccination Information for Health Care Workers,” accessed Nov. 06, 2015