Are Nurses Required To Get A Flu Shot
- Post author:Michelle Paul
Health care employees often care for sick or high-risk populations. Due to the nature of such work, workers are more likely to become ill themselves.
Thats why many nurses take as many precautions as possible to protect both themselves and their patients, especially during this years global pandemic. And one of the best ways to do so is by getting an annual flu shot.
Influenza is one threat we can take action against with a vaccine, and many health care workers receive the flu shot annually. In the 2019-2020 flu season, 80.6% of health care personnel got flu shots, including 92% of nurses.
The CDC recommends annual vaccination as the first and strongest line of defense against influenza. But can hospitals and other health care facilities legally require their staff to get a flu shot?
Agreeing To Be Vaccinated
Its important that as many health and social care workers as possible get the vaccine it protects you, your family, and the people you care for from the flu but if you dont want to have the vaccine for whatever reason, you dont have to have it.
All frontline health and social care workers who are directly involved in the care of clinically vulnerable patients/clients, and who are at increased risk from exposure to influenza, should receive a vaccination this season. This should be provided by their employer, in order to meet their responsibility to protect their staff and patients and ensure the overall safe running of services. Employers should commission a service which makes access easy to the vaccine for all frontline staff, encourage staff to get vaccinated, and monitor the delivery of their programmes.
Where employee-led occupational health services are not in place, the NHS will continue to support vaccination of social care and hospice workers employed by registered residential or domiciliary care providers, as well as those employed through Direct Payment and/or Personal Health Budgets to deliver domiciliary care to patients and service users. Vaccination will be available through community pharmacy or their registered general practice. This scheme is intended to complement, not replace, any established occupational health schemes that employers have in place to offer flu vaccination to their workforce.
States With Hospital Staff Flu Shot Requirements
About one-third of states require hospitals to offer employees flu shots or track their vaccination statuses to help boost flu vaccination rates in healthcare settings, according to a new ranking from Kaiser Family Foundation.
The ranking is based on an analysis of state laws and immunization websites outlining vaccine requirements for hospitals as of 2020.
Thirty-three states do not have any flu vaccination requirements for hospitals. The following 17 states require hospitals to offer the flu vaccine and/or report employees’ vaccination status. Here is a summary of each state’s requirements.
CaliforniaHospitals must offer vaccine and report statusEmployees can decline a flu shot without an exemption
ColoradoHospitals must offer vaccine and report statusEmployees can only decline flu shot due to medical exemption
Georgia Hospitals must offer vaccine and report statusEmployees can decline a flu shot without an exemption
IllinoisHospitals must offer vaccine and report statusEmployees can only decline flu shot due to medical or religious exemption
MaineEmployees can decline a flu shot without an exemptionMedical or religious exemptions also accepted
Hospitals must offer vaccine and report statusEmployees can decline a flu shot without an exemption
MassachusettsHospitals must offer vaccine and report statusEmployees can decline a flu shot without an exemptionMedical or religious exemptions also accepted
Hospitals must report employees’ vaccination status
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Maine Planning For Massive Rollout Of Covid
MaineHealth, the parent company of Maine Medical Center in Portland and a network of hospitals and health care services in Maine, required the flu shot for its 23,000 employees this year after having it be voluntary in previous years. Public health experts have emphasized the importance of the flu vaccine during the pandemic to avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed with flu and COVID-19 patients at the same time.
Cara Sacks, spokeswoman for Mainers for Health and Parental Rights, a group that led an unsuccessful campaign to overturn a new Maine law that eliminated religious and philosophical opt-outs to school-required vaccines, said the Maine CDC is overstepping its authority.
Maine CDC has the authority to make rules within the process of implementing existing laws. However, this proposed rule change abuses that authority and usurps the role of the Legislature by blatantly attempting to create new law under the guise of a rule change, Sacks said in a statement.
Caitlin Gilmet, spokeswoman for Maine Families for Vaccines, which supported the school vaccine requirements, said that the flu vaccine plays an important role in public health.
We trust the experts that are recommending this measure, Gilmet said.
The proposed rule change could also pave the way for mandatory immunization of health care employees for COVID-19. But Shah said that its too early to predict whether the new flu rule, which could go into effect early in 2021, would apply to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Flu Shot Requirement For Maine Health Care Workers Meets Resistance From Some Nurses
The rule proposed by the Maine CDC could pave the way for COVID-19 vaccine requirements for health care workers in an emergency.
As Maine battles the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is proposing a new rule that would require health care workers to get a seasonal flu shot in addition to other mandatory vaccinations.
But the proposal, which aims to boost immunity in health care settings to protect workers and patients, ran into opposition from some nurses who argued during a public hearing Monday that they should get to choose whether to be immunized for the flu.
Rebecca Begin believes many health care workers will quit rather than take the flu vaccine.
Free will cannot be taken away from health care workers, said Begin, a nurse. This move will be a tipping point to many leaving the health care workforce.
Malissa Wildes holds a dose of this years flu shot at Maine Medical Partners Pediatrics in September. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer
Cokie Giles, president of the Maine State Nurses Association, said the union supports flu vaccinations but not the state rule making them mandatory, and that employees should still be able to choose whether to get the shot.
But another nurse, Brandie Rubin, said health employees have an ethical duty to protect their patients, and getting the flu shot is one of those duties.
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Health Care Workers Attitudes Toward Condition
Health care agencies may be reluctant to implement condition-of-service policies because of a concern about causing discontent among employees. However, among North American surveys each including more than 200 respondents published since 2010, 57%85% of health care workers supported or strongly supported influenza vaccination as a condition of service. Support for condition-of-service policies is associated with increased knowledge of influenza vaccine science,,, a lengthier career in health care, and more exposure to seriously ill patients with influenza, emphasizing that education is a critically important component for gaining employee acceptance when condition-of-service policies are introduced. Health care workers who work in a setting with an immunization mandate are also more likely to support such a mandate., Perhaps surprisingly, in some surveys, a significant minority of unvaccinated workers have reported being in favour of condition-of-service policies.,,
Those Who Shouldnt Get A Flu Vaccination
Most adults can have the injected flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past. If you are uncertain whether you should avoid it due to a medical condition, you should speak to your GP.
You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs. Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.
If youre ill with a high temperature, its best to wait until youre better before having the flu vaccine.
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The Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms
Condition-of-service policies may also be subject to the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. If government conduct violates an individuals charter-protected rights, a court can declare it to be unconstitutional. The charter would thus apply to a provincial law mandating influenza vaccination of health care workers. The charter might apply to a policy introduced by a health care facility, but only if that policy is considered to be the implementation of a broader governmental policy.,, Although some arbitrators have applied the charter to hospital facility policies,, others have refused, and one considered charter issues but did not rule on whether the charter applied.
Vaccination-required policies are, of course, associated with much more severe economic consequences than policies prohibiting health care workers from working during facility outbreaks. Although no arbitrator or court has considered whether such policies violate the charter, they may be seen as leaving the employee with no choice but to be vaccinated. However, the Supreme Court of Canada has consistently refused to recognize that the charter protects economic rights, such as the right to work, which may present an important obstacle to this argument.
Humanitarian And Military Recommendations
Nurses care for patients in a variety of settings outside of acute care hospitals such as during an international disaster. Humanitarian Aid relief health care providers require specific vaccines to avoid communicable preventable diseases. Nurses working for the military may also have different vaccination guidance based on their deployment or situation.
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Health Care Workers Mandatory Influenza Vaccination Policies And The Law
Over the last few years, there has been increasing discussion about the importance of influenza vaccination for health care workers. There is consensus that all health care workers should receive the influenza vaccine annually, but the actual vaccination rates in this group remain below 50%., In response to this low rate and the evidence that vaccination of health care workers is associated with improved patient outcomes, an increasing number of expert and professional groups recommend that annual influenza vaccination be a condition of service in the health care industry.,
Although much has been written about the evidence that the vaccination of health care workers against influenza improves patient outcomes,, and about the ethics of mandating vaccination,, there is much less published information on aspects of implementation of such policies.
We provide a brief review of the literature regarding the impact of such policies on the vaccination rates among health care workers and their attitudes toward mandated influenza vaccination, and we review key Canadian legal cases.
Flu Vaccination Guidance For Social Care Workers
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: .
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flu-immunisation-for-social-care-staff/flu-vaccination-guidance-for-social-care-workers
The government is grateful for the dedication and commitment shown by all our social care workers and the organisations involved in keeping people with care and support needs safe during the pandemic. Colleagues across the sector have risen to this unprecedented challenge and gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep those they care for safe.
As the sector continues to deal with these challenges it is important that the focus on the flu virus is not lost. We want to ensure that the sector is as well-protected from the flu virus as it can be, including both for the staff within it and the people being cared for. Securing access to the flu vaccine is the best way to do this.
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Flu Vaccine For Healthcare Workers
Healthcare workers prevent the spread of flu and save lives by getting the flu vaccine.
The best way to protect you, your patients and your family is to get this year’s vaccine.
You can pass the flu virus to somebody you care for even before you know that you are sick.
Flu can be transmitted from 1 day before and for 3 to 5 days after developing symptoms. During this time patients and colleagues could become infected.
Wsnas Position On Influenza Vaccinations And Prevention During The Covid
WSNA is committed to advocating for the health of nurses, patients and the communities they serve. Because of this commitment, WSNA strongly recommends that all nurses and other health care providers be vaccinated against all influenza viruses as a key component of a comprehensive influenza prevention program. WSNA recognizes the enhanced importance of the influenza vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic. WSNAs strongest recommendation is that all nurses, health care workers, and the general public elect to receive the flu shot this year.
WSNA strongly supports and urges voluntary efforts that aim for 100 percent vaccination rates, including annual education and implementation of comprehensive influenza vaccination programs for all health care workers. WSNA is committed to educating our members and the public through a variety of mechanisms.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, current universal masking policies in health care facilities may help contain the spread of influenza. It is critical that all health care workers are provided adequate Personal Protective Equipment used according to manufacturers instructions to prevent transmission of coronavirus and influenza.
WSNA supports enforcement of existing federal and state regulations to ensure that all employers meet the Centers for Disease Control and Occupational Health and Safety Administration requirements for influenza prevention.
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How To Get A Flu Vaccination
Your employer can support in ensuring that you receive a flu vaccination. They may do this by arranging for you to be vaccinated at your place of work or by arranging for you to be vaccinated off-site. Your employer can let you know which scheme they are running. If not, please ask them
In instances where an employer can not provide a flu vaccination scheme, you can still receive the flu vaccination free of charge from a GP practice or pharmacy through the complementary NHS scheme if youre a social care worker employed by a:
- registered residential care or nursing home
- registered homecare organisation
- voluntary managed hospice provider
Or, if you provide social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, there is specific flu vaccination guidance for personal care assistants.
Nurse Who Refused Flu Shot Wins Lawsuit Against Hackettstown Regional Medical Center
Flu shot clinic
A Hackettstown Regional Medical Center nurse lost her benefits when she refused a flu shot. An appellate court found that the hospital violated her First Amendment rights.
A Warren County nurse was unfairly denied unemployment benefits after she was fired for refusing a flu shot without claiming a religious or medical exemption, a New Jersey appeals court ruled today.
The three-judge panel wrote that the hospital’s policy of allowing religious or medical exemptions to the flu shot requirement “unconstitutionally discriminated against” plaintiff June Valent by rejecting her refusal to be vaccinated for secular reasons.
Valent was working as a nurse at Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, then Hackettstown Community Hospital, in 2010 when the hospital’s parent company began requiring employees to take the flu vaccine unless they had medical or religious reasons not to. Employees claiming an exemption were required to sign a form and provide documentation. Anyone refusing the vaccine was required to wear a mask while at work.
Valent declined the vaccine but didn’t state a medical or religious reason, and agreed to wear a mask. She was terminated based on her refusal of the vaccine and disqualified for unemployment benefits by a Department of Labor board of review after several hearings and appeals from both sides.
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Effectiveness Of The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against flu, which can cause serious illness and death in at-risk groups.
Studies have shown that the flu vaccine will help prevent you from getting flu.
Flu is caused by a number of different strains of the flu virus and the vaccine only protects against those that are most likely to cause flu during this years flu season. As a result, theres not a 100% guarantee that you wont get flu if youve been vaccinated.
However, even if you do get flu after being vaccinated, studies have shown that youre likely to have a much milder and shorter illness.
You cannot catch flu from the flu vaccine because there are no live viruses in the vaccine.
Flu Shots Mandatory For Bc Health
Voluntary, education-based approach preferred: Union
Beginning this flu season, British Columbia will be the first province in the country to implement a mandatory flu shot policy for health-care workers.
Influenza causes more deaths annually than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined, and hospitalized patients are more vulnerable, said B.C.s Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall, who announced the new policy in August.
Putting in place consistent policies to prevent influenza from spreading is the right thing to do from a patient safety perspective.
About 50 per cent of health-care workers in B.C. currently receive the vaccine, which is much lower than the ideal, said Kendall, who would like to see coverage levels of at least 85 per cent.
From about December to March the typical flu season health-care workers at publicly funded health-care facilities or in the community, including long-term care facilities, will need to receive the influenza vaccination or wear a mask throughout the season, said Kendall.
The policy applies to any worker who interacts with patients including nurses, physicians, volunteers, students, contractors and vendors. The only people unaffected by the policy would be administrative or support staff who dont come into contact with patients, said Kendall.
For the past decade, the province has been working with unions on a voluntary, education-based approach but it was not getting the results it wanted, said Kendall.
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