A Staggering Number Of U.S. Hospitals Don’t Require Staff Flu Shots

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Say it with us: The flu shot should not skipped, ignored, or in any way foregone this — and every — winter season (unless you are less than 6 months old or in some other rare exception category). To avoid this simple vaccine is to defy common sense, and more importantly, doctors' orders. Why, then, does it appear that doctors don't uphold their own orders? A study recently published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology found that less than half of all hospitals in the United States require employees to get the flu shot. Of the 386 non-VA hospitals that responded to the researchers' survey, only about 43% required staff (doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers) to be vaccinated — despite the CDC's recommendation that all healthcare providers do so. This comes as a major surprise, since, to state the obvious, vaccinated doctors and nurses would help prevent the flu from spreading inside and outside of the hospital in which they work. We've previously reported on the importance of herd immunity, which would only be bolstered (and helpful to everyone) in a hospital where all workers were already immunized before even the first patient of the season arrived. Within this problem lurks the anti-vaccine movement and the larger, national debate therein. We could make an attempt at verbal sparring over such things in this space, but we'd rather keep it simple. Doctors and healthcare workers of America, even if your job is not at stake, please get a flu shot — if not for yourselves, then for us, your potential patients.

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