Experts continue to worry that not enough health professionals and others who have contact with patients will get the flu vaccine. Data shows that approximae 64% of health care personnel were vaccinated against influenza during the 2011-12 season, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study – the vaccination rate for health care workers still falls below the Healthy People 2020 target rate of 90%.
Vaccinating health care workers against influenza has been shown to reduce transmission of the illness among employees and patients, some of whom are too young or sick to be immunized themselves. To persuade staff to the shot, medical organizations have focused on educating health professionals about influenza and how to prevent its spread. They also have urged getting the seasonal influenza shot every year.
The American Medical Association says physicians have an obligation to be immunized against highly transmissible diseases that pose a significant medical risk for vulnerable patients or colleagues, or threaten the availability of the health care work force.
Individuals with a medical, religious or philosophical reason to not get the shot should be willing to wear face masks or refrain from direct patient care to prevent passing the illness, the AMA says.