Media Alert: NPSF Supports Mandatory Flu Vaccinations for Healthcare Workers
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
NOVEMBER 18, 2009 (BOSTON, MA) – The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) today issued the following position statement supporting mandatory influenza vaccination of health care workers:
The National Patient Safety Foundation recognizes vaccine-preventable diseases as a matter of patient safety and supports mandatory influenza vaccination of health care workers to protect the health of patients, health care workers, and the community. NPSF appreciates that where vaccination is not possible for any reason, due to unavailability or medical contraindications of potential vaccine recipients, hospitals and healthcare professionals must use all available alternatives to avoid transmission to patients and coworkers including masks and adjusting job responsibilities.
Influenza infection poses a significant threat to public health, and is of particular concern in hospital settings, where compromised patients are vulnerable to contagion, in particular when health care workers are carrying the virus. As individuals can be contagious while asymptomatic, health care workers can be transmitting the virus unknowingly. New data indicate that institutions with mandatory influenza vaccinations show an 88 percent reduction in workforce infection and a 41 percent reduction in influenza-related patient mortality. Influenza vaccination of health care workers is already recommended by the Center for Disease Control and is the gold standard of care – though not yet required – among all healthcare institutions.
“We deeply appreciate the National Patient Safety Foundation’s leadership on this critical issue,” said Jonathan Perlin, MD, Chief Medical Officer & President of Clinical Services at The Hospital Corporation of America. “Studies show that healthcare environments with 100 percent vaccination rates reduce the spread of infection among staff and save patients’ lives.”
Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center, a strong proponent of mandatory vaccination, noted that “as these data have come forth, it is important that healthcare workers committed to patient safety know that this is nothing less than a professional and ethical responsibility.”
Dr. Perlin serves on the NPSF Board of Governors, and Dr. Kaplan is Vice Chair of the NPSF Board of Directors.
“The medical community has an obligation to protect at-risk patients from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Diane Pinakiewicz, president of the National Patient Safety Foundation. “The correlation between mandatory flu vaccination and lower patient infection rates in hospitals demonstrates that this is a patient safety imperative. There must be a broad stakeholder engagement in healthcare institutions to prevent the spread of infection to the most vulnerable in our communities. Patient safety must come first.”