It's Not to Early to Be Thinking About the Flu
Sep 07, 2012

Last year I ran a weekly series that I called the Friday Flu Shot.  Each week I focused on various flu-related topics such as the importance of flu shots for pregnant women, recent changes in influenza vaccine recommendations, efforts to improve flu vaccine uptake among children and healthcare workers and stories of those who suffered or died as a result of influenza.
Well, this week, when a work colleague mentioned that she had just received her flu shot, I realized that it is now September and it’s not too early to be thinking about the flu.  In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics released their universal flu recommendations in the latest issue of Pediatrics, They recommend the trivalent seasonal vaccine for all individuals, including all children and adolescents. In addition, those with high-risk conditions, infants, health care personnel and pregnant women are all encouraged to receive the vaccine.
Now, since this is my first flu related blog post this season, I wanted to keep it simple and draw your attention to a few “causes” that I have seen online that you too may want to support.
The first is a pledge that you can make that states that you intend to get the influenza vaccine each and every year. You can sign it here.
There is also a petition that you can sign that has to do with influenza vaccination among healthcare workers.  The petition is directed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.  The committee has recommended that all healthcare providers be immunized for influenza and has set a goal of 90% compliance.  Unfortunately, the  figures show that the influenza immunization rate among health care workers is currently just over 60%.  Therefore, the creator of this petition is calling for the next step – issuing a national mandate that requires vaccination among health care workers.
The petition states:

We believe that the rights of the patient to not be exposed to the flu at his or her most vulnerable time take precedence over a worker’s right to make up his or her own mind about whether or not to have a flu shot. We request that you revise your recommendations to include a national mandate for all healthcare workers whose work involves patient contact to be immunized against influenza as part of the terms of their employment…Currently patients do not know if they risk being exposed to the flu by the very people who are taking care of them. With a national mandate in place our most vulnerable will know that they do not face the unreasonable and unnecessary risk of a deadly disease.”

I will admit that this is a bold request.  There are bound to be issues with the implementation of such a policy.  And there are certainly going to need to be some exceptions made for medical exemptions.  However, I also feel that it is somewhat irresponsible and unprofessional for healthcare workers to refuse to be vaccinated.  As a patient, I would like to retain the right to refuse treatment from someone who is not immunized, or even to know if my caretakers are vaccinated or not.
Now, I certainly understand that the flu vaccine is not going to guarantee that vaccinated healthcare workers won’t end up getting a different strain of flu.  However, it is my opinion that if they don’t care enough to try to prevent the transmission of disease in a way that is proven safe, than I would simply prefer to be taken care of by someone who is willing to do everything possible to keep themselves and their patients healthy.
While I’m sure there are lots of other petitions and pledges out there, I just wanted to do my part today to pass this particular information on and encourage you to do the same.  To be honest, I am inspired to see the active involvement of so many concerned citizens who have already signed these documents.  It reminds me that there are lots of people out there who are willing to advocate for life-saving immunizations.  And that, my friends has given me hope on this fine Friday!
Also, in anticipation of restarting my Friday Flu Shot series again this season, I would love to hear your suggestions for future blog post topics related to the flu.  Simply post your ideas in the comments below.   And if you have the chance, why not go ahead and get your flu shot today!


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