Flu Season Stirs Vaccination Controversy
Flu season has arrived early, and in ferocious fashion. Many hospitals are experiencing overcrowded emergency departments, with some in the Chicago area going on diversion
and at least one in Pennsylvania erecting a mobile ED
to accommodate the flood of patients.
Widespread influenza activity has been reported in 41 states, according to the CDC. Last week, a public health emergency was declared in Boston, which reportedly is experiencing a 10-fold spike in flu cases compared to the same period last year. In the Charlotte, NC, area, Carolinas HealthCare System responded to a near-tripling of patients experiencing flu-like symptoms by restricting visitors under the age of 12 at all of its inpatient hospitals.
It's not too late to get a flu shot if you are so inclined. The Joint Commission is phasing in a requirement that accredited organizations establish annual voluntary influenza vaccination programs for all staff and licensed independent practitioners, with a goal of 90% flu vaccination rate by 2020.
Some hospitals are taking it further by requiring staff to get vaccinated. Seven staff members, including at least three nurses, recently lost employment at Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital after they refused to comply with a vaccine requirement. We reported on the situation at www.advanceweb.com/Nurses and the article generated several comments in support of those affected.
"My heart goes out the nurses who lost their jobs due to refusal of the flu shot," writes Karen Christopher of Spring Hill, TN. "I totally understand their position. ... I am a nurse, don't get the flu shot and wear a mask required by my facility during the six-month flu season."
What an unfortunate circumstance where frontline healthcare workers, who rely on science in so much of their practice, must be forced into vaccinations recommended by public health experts and healthcare organizations. Getting the flu vaccine isn't a scheme hatched by Big Pharma or Big Brother - it's common sense.