You’d think that health care workers would be likely candidates to get the flu vaccine each year. After all, it’s quite possible that they’re exposed to the flu more than the average person. And, you’d hope that they want to avoid catching the flu bug so that they can be there to treat you if you get sick with the flu.
Not so! A survey taken by the Centers for Disease Control reports that during last year’s flu season only 79% of health care workers in the United States received a flu vaccine. That means 21% of health care workers, or about 2 out of 10, failed to receive that protection.
The good news is that your doctor probably did get a flu shot. Nearly 96% of them did, according to the CDC figures. The same goes for hospital workers, showing a vaccination rate of a bit over 91%
On the other hand, health care assistants and aids showed the lowest rate, only about 64%. And that rate was also a low 69% for people working in long term care facilities, such as nursing homes.
Make it easy, free and mandatory
Making a flu vaccination a requirement for health care workers gets results. The CDC says 96.5 of those workers were vaccinated. No requirement? Among HCP working in settings where vaccination was neither required, promoted, nor offered on site, vaccination coverage was just under 45%.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all health care personnel receive a flu vaccination each year. And it encourages health care employers to educate, promote and provide easy access to vaccinations at no cost.
The next time you have a medical appointment you might be able to help. Why not ask your doctor or nurse: “Have you had a flu shot yet?”
You can get lots of great information about the flu and flu vaccines on the CDC web site.