Infection-control academics call for mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers so do we!

By ACSH Staff — Dec 19, 2013
Several societies concerned with countering the spread of infectious diseases issued a call for mandatory immunization of all healthcare workers. They outlined their reasons, but those are quite obvious and this mandate is long overdue, as we here at ACSH have been saying for years.

vaccThree major infectious-disease societies said this week that healthcare personnel (HCP) should be required to receive all six vaccines that are recommended for them by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) something that we at ACSH have been maintaining for years.

The statement was issued jointly by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS). The recommended vaccines are for influenza; hepatitis B; measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); varicella; tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap); and meningococcal disease. In 2010, these same societies called for mandatory flu vaccination, but this is the first effort they ve made to include this entire group of vaccines.

They list the rationales for making HCP immunization mandatory When voluntary programs fail to achieve immunization of at least 90% of HCP, the Societies support HCE [healthcare employers] policies that require HCP documentation of immunity or receipt of ACIP-recommended vaccination as a condition of employment, unpaid service, or receipt of professional privileges but in fact the reasons are self-evident, and come down to this basic precept: primum non nocere, first, do no harm. In other words, since the vaccines are safe and effective, there is no reason why HCP should put sick, vulnerable patients at risk by becoming unsuspecting vectors of transmission of contagion.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross had this to day: We have been urging, then demanding, that the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. require mandatory influenza shots for HCP. Last year, they attained the remarkable rate of 36 percent. Shameful! We noted this abysmal situation several times, and when the NY State Dept. of Health issued their regulations, avoiding the nasty requirement of mandatory vaccines by allowing useless masks, we had this to say, in October:

...the masks required will not offer any significant protection against influenza viral transmission. This is not protecting vulnerable patients with compromised immune systems, or neonates with barely functional immunity it is only a pretense.The masks required are well-known to be useless against flu transmission, so wearing one simply tells the patient that, My caregiver is possibly a flu vector. I guess they hope that those shunning the shot will feel shamed enough to throw away the mask and get vaccinated as they should have initially. The arguments against mandatory vaccination are flawed, circular, baseless or all of the above. I fear that the number of workers actually protected against the flu this season will be even lower than the unacceptable figure of last year: an abysmal 36 percent!