To better protect patients and health care workers, the Infectious Diseases Society of America recently strengthened its policy on mandatory immunization of workers. The strengthened statement applies to both seasonal influenza and 2009 H1N1 influenza.
It further states that employees who cannot be vaccinated because of medical contraindications, because vaccine is in short supply, or who decline in writing for religious reasons, should be required to wear masks or be reassigned from direct patient care.
The policy, which is directed at health care institutions, is available on IDSA’s website.
“We believe immunization is the most effective thing we as HCWs can do to protect our patients – and our ourselves – from influenza, including the 2009 novel H1N1 virus,” IDSA President Anne Gershon said in an e-mail announcing the stronger policy Oct. 29. “All of us and all of our colleagues who work in direct patient care should be immunized. We owe it to our patients.”
The IDSA Board of Directors voted in September to strengthen the policy to address 2009 H1N1, remove the option of declining immunization for philosophical reasons, and specify the steps that should be taken to protect patients from unvaccinated health care workers, including requiring unvaccinated workers to wear masks.