The Massachusetts Hospital Association strongly supports mandatory flu vaccination for all hospital employees and applauds Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children's Hospital Boston for their bold decision to require flu vaccination as a condition of employment.
Today's release of vaccination rates at Massachusetts hospitals shows continued improvement, with 70.8 percent of acute care hospital workers statewide receiving the flu vaccine last year, compared to 68 percent the year before. But 20 percent of those hospitals' employees refused to be vaccinated, which is completely unacceptable and a huge disservice to patients. There are rare instances where an exception needs to be made, but outside of those limited circumstances, the goal should be 100 percent.
Currently Massachusetts hospitals are required as part of their licensure to ensure that every employee is offered influenza vaccination unless such employee declines to be vaccinated. Hospital employees who decline vaccination are required to sign a form that includes providing the reason the individual refuses to be vaccinated against influenza.
Hospital employees are the front-line stewards of public health and we are proud of their service. For the relatively few employees without extenuating circumstances who may still hesitate to participate in the vaccination program, we believe that their commitment to patient care should carry the day. Patient safety shouldn’t be optional and that means that vaccination compliance shouldn’t be optional either.