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Nurse Flu Shot Compliance Reverberates Through Community

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, June 10, 2014

Little seems to raise the ire of this column's readers than the topic of mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers. They take to the comments section (scroll down the page) to debate the ethics of such policies and the efficacy of the vaccines themselves.

According to the CDC, the efficacy of the influenza vaccine varies from season to season, but it does cite numerous studies showing its overall effectiveness. For instance, one study showed that flu vaccination reduced children's risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010–2012.

Another showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.

The CDC and other organizations are also urging healthcare workers to get vaccinated against the flu. The coverage rate for healthcare workers was estimated at 72% for the 2012–13 season, representing an increase from 66.9% in the 2011–12 season and 63.5% in the 2010–11 season, the CDC reports.

However, voluntary flu vaccination doesn't seem to raise the rates enough, and many healthcare organizations have been reluctant to make getting flu vaccines a condition of employment. Some have taken that step, though, including University of North Carolina Health Care and Johns Hopkins.

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