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Revealed: Why Health Providers Avoid Vaccines

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 1, 2010

A recent bug that tied my vocal cords got me thinking about dreaded influenza and my trusted doctor, who prescribed the meds to assure I wouldn't stay sick long.

Most Americans look up to their healthcare providers, as well they should.  Doctors, nurses and other professionals deserve our admiration.

They of all people know not only what's important to stay healthy. They also understand they serve as role models for patients and coworkers alike.

That's why it was disappointing to learn from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report this spring that more than one in three healthcare providers in the U.S. did not bother to get last year's seasonal influenza vaccine (38.1%).

Moreover, about two in three chose not to get vaccinated against 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1), which became available last August, even as the nation was swept up with fear of the dreaded "swine flu."

Fewer than two in three providers (64.3%) obtained either one or the other of these vaccines but only a third (34.7%) received both, said the report, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

This, by the way, was the good news.

Because even though these rates are much lower than they should be, they show vaccination among healthcare providers has been increasing.

Between 2004 and 2008, vaccination among healthcare providers has fluctuated between 46% and 49%, according to the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, which says the last season it has never been higher.

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