AAFP calls for mandatory influenza vaccinations for healthcare personnel

The American Academy of Family Physicians has joined a growing list of healthcare organizations that promote and support mandatory annual influenza vaccinations for healthcare personnel.  

The Academy adopted a policy on June 8 that calls for all health care personnel to receive a vaccine each year, with exceptions based only on religious or medical reasons, not on personal preference. Health care personnel who are not vaccinated must use adjusted practice activity, like wearing masks or refraining from direct patient contact during flu season.

"Patients within their medical home should expect the highest level of protection from their clinicians," Jonathan Temte, a member of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, said. "As our patients are often medically vulnerable, prevention of transmission from a health care worker is essential to complete and conscientious medical practice."

Despite recommendations by the ACIP, the AAFP, the American College of Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that all healthcare workers should receive annual influenza immunizations, less than half of healthcare workers are immunized against the flu each year. Over 90 percent of respondents during a 2010 AAFP member survey who provided patient vaccines were immunized against the flu themselves during the 2009-10 influenza season.

"Institutional and professional organization support is necessary to enhance the current low rates of influenza vaccination among health care personnel," Temte said. "The adoption of this policy by the AAFP will help in this approach as we join our primary care colleagues in pediatrics and internal medicine. There has been extensive and thoughtful evaluation and assessment of the ethics behind such a policy, and this is in keeping with good medical practice."