Two Boston hospitals mandate flu vaccines for workers

Boston hospitals Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children's Hospital Boston will require all employees who have contact with patients to get a flu vaccine this fall or face possible suspension or termination.
The hospitals are part of a 10-hospital coalition that pledged in July to adopt policies as quickly as possible to mandate seasonal flu vaccines for all healthcare workers, the Boston Globe reports. The rules are aimed at keeping workers healthy so they do not spread the flu to patients, especially during the middle of a flu outbreak.
“It’s a critical patient-safety issue,’’ Dr. Alan Woodward, a past president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and a member of the state Public Health Council, said, according to the Boston Globe, “Healthcare workers are very prone to be vectors, transmitting the disease to others, and they can be infectious before they show symptoms."
While the current state rules require hospital workers to be vaccinated or to sign a form declining the shot. Stricter rules only allowing for medical exceptions, such as a signed doctor's form indicating a worker's allergy to the vaccine, may create much higher vaccination rates.
“Most of these places [nationally] that have gotten to 100 percent vaccination rates either have people receiving vaccine or having a documented reason to not get a vaccine,’’ Dr. Kenneth Sands, the senior vice president for healthcare quality at Beth Israel Deaconess, said, according to the Boston Globe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last month estimating that the national flu vaccination rate among hospital workers last season was approximately 71 percent. Beth Israel Deaconess reported a 60 percent vaccination rate in the 2009-2010 season, while Children's Hospital Boston reported a 53 percent worker vaccination rate during the same season.