A shot in the foot of public health: Many health care workers won t get flu vaccine

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According to a Consumer Reports survey, 28 percent of health care workers do not plan to get this season s flu vaccine, which protects against H1N1 swine flu as well as the other likely flu virus strains, and is recommended by the CDC for everyone over the age of six months. Consumer Reports polled 1,500 people aged 18 and over who are considered to be at high risk of contracting the flu such as those with certain chronic diseases and the elderly. Combined with the poll s finding that 45 percent of the survey participants do not intend to get vaccinated, the results imply that a large portion of high-risk people will be especially vulnerable to the flu this year.

How dare these health care workers put patients at risk they should be well-versed in public health and vaccine safety and are in constant contact with patients. They should be fired if they refuse to vaccinate, ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan fumes.

While many health care facilities already mandate flu vaccination for their employees, everyone who works with sick and vulnerable patients should be required by law to get flu shots, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. We require schoolchildren to get vaccinated to protect both themselves and their classmates; this same concept is even more relevant to health care workers.