Study analyzes mandatory influenza vaccination laws

A recently published study examined the role of state laws in regards to vaccinating healthcare workers against influenza.

The study, which was authored by Alexandra Stewart and Marisa Cox of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Policy, was published in the January issue of the journal Vaccine, according to

Healthcare employers have adopted different strategies in an effort to encourage their workforces to receive influenza vaccination. They have tried sponsoring educational and promotional campaigns, increased access to the vaccine and combined a variety of other methods. Overall, according to Stewart and Cox, their efforts have been in vain.

Mandatory vaccination programs, however, endorsed by professional and non-profit organizations, state health departments and public health organizations, have been effective at increasing coverage rates. Several states have taken up the idea of mandatory influenza vaccination at healthcare facilities by passing laws the authors say could be used as models.

"These laws present an example of how states will respond to threats to the public's health and constrain personal choice in order to protect vulnerable populations," Stewart and Cox said, reports.

The study analyzed laws present in 20 states that address influenza vaccination requirements for healthcare workers that practice in certain types of healthcare facilities, including acute and long-term care.

"The laws vary in the extent to which they incorporate the six elements of a mandatory HCP influenza vaccination program," the authors said, reports. "Four of the twenty states have adopted a broad definition of HCP or HCE. While 16/20 of the laws require employers to "provide," "arrange for," "ensure," "require" or "offer" influenza vaccinations to HCP, only four states explicitly require HCEs to cover the cost of vaccination."

The study concludes with a discussion of the development of a model legal policy the authors believe could be helpful to legislators as they draft influenza prevention guidelines.