ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel is a professional and ethical responsibility, a U.S. group of physicians and infection preventionists says.
A position paper by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America endorsed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America says influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel -- in all healthcare settings, regardless of whether the professional has direct patient contact -- is a core patient safety practice that should be a condition of both initial and continued employment in healthcare facilities.
The flu vaccination policy also applies to students, volunteers and contract workers -- the only exemptions should be in cases of medical contraindications, the policy says.
"The transmission of influenza in healthcare settings is a substantial safety concern for both patients and healthcare personnel and deserves our attention and action," Dr. Neil Fishman, president of SHEA, says in a statement. "Healthcare providers are ethically obligated to take measures proven to keep patients from acquiring influenza in healthcare settings."
A Rand Corp. survey conducted in 2009 indicated 39 percent of healthcare professionals stated they had no intention of getting vaccinated despite the heightened concern of the H1N1 pandemic.
The policy statement is published in Infection Control and Healthcare Epidemiology.