Mandatory influenza vaccination for all healthcare personnel: a review on justification, implementation and effectiveness

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Abstract

Purpose of review

As healthcare-associated influenza is a serious public health concern, this review examines legal and ethical arguments supporting mandatory influenza vaccination policies for healthcare personnel, implementation issues and evidence of effectiveness.

Recent findings

Spread of influenza from healthcare personnel to patients can result in severe harm or death. Although most healthcare personnel believe that they should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that only 79% of personnel were vaccinated during the 2015–2016 season. Vaccination rates were as low as 44.9% in institutions that did not promote or offer the vaccine, compared with rates of more than 90% in institutions with mandatory vaccination policies. Policies that mandate influenza vaccination for healthcare personnel have legal and ethical justifications. Implementing such policies require multipronged approaches that include education efforts, easy access to vaccines, vaccine promotion, leadership support and consistent communication emphasizing patient safety.

Summary

Mandatory influenza vaccination for healthcare personnel is a necessary step in protecting patients. Patients who interact with healthcare personnel are often at an elevated risk of complications from influenza. Vaccination is the best available strategy for protecting against influenza and evidence shows that institutional policies and state laws can effectively increase healthcare personnel vaccination rates, decreasing the risk of transmission in healthcare settings. There are legal and ethical precedents for institutional mandatory influenza policies and state laws, although successful implementation requires addressing both administrative and attitudinal barriers.

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