SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

WIAAP opposes bill that may allow unvaccinated health care employees

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics announced its opposition on Thursday to a proposed bill that would allow health care employees to take a "personal exemption" from an employer's mandatory flu vaccine programs.

Medical providers have expressed concerns over the bill, numbered LRB 0020/1, because of the potential it can have on the health of children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that of 105 children to die from the influenza this flu season, 90 percent had not been vaccinated.

Medical providers are concerned if adults are not vaccinated, they may be carriers for the virus and pass it on to the children for which they care. In 2010, a policy statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on the matter of mandatory immunization said the concept is ethical and "necessary to ensure patient safety."

"This is a care and safety issue. It is our job to protect our most vulnerable patients - young infants and those with compromised immune systems, because they are at the highest risk for exposure and significant disease," Chair of the WIAAP committee of Infectious Disease and Immunization James Conway said.

Although those who decline vaccinations wear masks when dealing with patients, some medical providers argue this does not set a good example for children and families because it says not being vaccinated is okay. Conway said those who refuse immunizations should be moved to non-patient care, as "they are not optimal care providers."

"Systems mandating flu vaccination have healthier workforces and healthier patients," Margaret Hennessy, M.D., said. "This isn't a freedom of decision question. It's a decision to ensure that kids don't contract the flu from anyone, especially any adult caring for them."