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Vaccine. 2010 Nov 29;28(51):8061-4. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2010.10.019. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Reflections on the influenza vaccination of healthcare workers.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ruhr-Universit√§t Bochum, Bochum, Germany.


Despite all that is known about the dangers of nosocomial transmission of influenza to the vulnerable patient populations in our healthcare facilities, and the benefits of the influenza vaccination, the low rates of influenza vaccination among healthcare workers (HCWs) internationally shows no sign of significant improvement. With the current voluntary 'opt-in' programmes clearly failing to adequately address this issue, the time has undoubtedly come for a new approach to vaccination to be implemented. Two different approaches to vaccination delivery have been suggested to rectify this situation, mandatory vaccination and 'opt-out' declination forms. It is suggested, however, that these two approaches are inadequate when used by themselves. In order to protect the most vulnerable patients in our healthcare facilities as best we can from serious harm or death caused by nosocomial transmission of influenza, while at the same time respecting HCWs autonomy, and in many jurisdictions, the related legal right to refuse medical treatment, it is recommended that 'op-out' declination forms should be used in conjunction with restricted mandatory vaccination. This 'combined' approach would allow any HCW to refuse the influenza vaccination, but would make the influenza vaccination a mandatory requirement for working in areas where the most vulnerable patients are cared for. Those HCWs not willing to be vaccinated should be required to work in other areas of healthcare.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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