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Vaccine. 2013 Jan 21;31(5):827-32. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.11.063. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

State law and influenza vaccination of health care personnel.

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George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Department of Health Policy, Washington, DC 20006, United States.


Nosocomial influenza outbreaks, attributed to the unvaccinated health care workforce, have contributed to patient complications or death, worker illness and absenteeism, and increased economic costs to the health care system. Since 1981, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that all HCP receive an annual influenza vaccination. Health care employers (HCE) have adopted various strategies to encourage health care personnel (HCP) to voluntarily receive influenza vaccination, including: sponsoring educational and promotional campaigns, increasing access to seasonal influenza vaccine, permitting the use of declination statements, and combining multiple approaches. However, these measures failed to significantly increase uptake among HCP. As a result, beginning in 2004, health care facilities and local health departments began to require certain HCP to receive influenza vaccination as a condition of employment and annually. Today, hundreds of facilities throughout the country have developed and implemented similar policies. Mandatory vaccination programs have been endorsed by professional and non-profit organizations, state health departments, and public health. These programs have been more effective at increasing coverage rates than any voluntary strategy, with some health systems reporting coverage rates up to 99.3%. Several states have enacted laws requiring HCEs to implement vaccination programs for the workforce. These laws present an example of how states will respond to threats to the public's health and constrain personal choice in order to protect vulnerable populations. This study analyzes laws in twenty states that address influenza vaccination requirements for HCP who practice in acute or long-term care facilities in the United States. The laws vary in the extent to which they incorporate the six elements of a mandatory HCP influenza vaccination program. Four of the twenty states have adopted a broad definition of HCP or HCE. While 16/20 of the laws require employers to "provide," "arrange for," "ensure," "require" or "offer" influenza vaccinations to HCP, only four states explicitly require HCEs to cover the cost of vaccination. Fifteen of the twenty laws allow HCP to decline the vaccination due to medical contraindication, religious or philosophical beliefs, or by signing a declination statement. Finally, three states address how to sanction noncompliant HCPs. The analysis also discusses the development of a model legal policy that legislators could use as they draft and revise influenza prevention guidelines in health care settings.

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