Harrington HealthCare System to require masks for employees who aren't vaccinated

Harrington HealthCare System in Southbridge, Massachusetts, will require all physicians, volunteers and employees who do not receive the flu vaccine to wear surgical masks when in patient areas or within six feet of patients.

Volunteers and workers who have not received a vaccination must also wear the mask when entering a patient room, cubicle, procedure room or examination room. The requirement will start at the beginning of an area flu outbreak and will last through the end of flu season as determined by the state Department of Public Health and the Harrington Infection Prevention Department, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports.

"We are taking this step because we consider the vaccination of hospital workers to be critical to patient safety," Edward H. Moore, Harrington's president and CEO, said, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "Hospital workers can be very prone to contracting this disease if they are not vaccinated, and they can become infectious days before they show any symptoms. Unfortunately, there are some staff members who would like to receive a flu vaccination but, because of valid medical reasons, are unable to do so."

The initiative will take effect in all Harrington medical facilities, including Harrington Physician Services offices, the Harrington Hospital campus, Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard in Webster and Harrington HealthCare at Charlton.

Approximately 84 percent of all Harrington volunteers, physicians and employees have been vaccinated and that number is continuing to increase.