North Carolina DHHS makes flu vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently directed leaders of 14 state-operated healthcare facilities to institute a mandatory flu vaccination policy for 10,000 employees and volunteers to protect patients.

Employees of the DHHS Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities were told about the policy in late August. Employees must be vaccinated by December 1.

"More than 52 hospitals and health systems in our state have already made the judicious decision to implement mandatory flu vaccination policies to protect against illness," Aldona Wos, the DHHS secretary, said. "Because many of the patients and residents in our state facilities are at high risk for complications from flu, this is a responsible decision that will create a safer environment for our patients and staff."

The DHHS will hold flu vaccination clinics on-site for more than 16,000 DHHS employees through the fall. While employees may opt to be vaccinated by a provider of their choice, the employees must provide proof of vaccination at their workplace.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza vaccination among healthcare workers was estimated at 63.5 percent during the 2010-2011 influenza season. Coverage was 98.1 percent among healthcare workers with an employer vaccination requirement.

The division manages 14 facilities throughout the state that treat children and adults with developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorders.