That nurses can help improve vaccination rates is no surprise, but I can't help but notice an ironic side to this: Nurses might be good at giving the vaccine and making sure their patients get it, but they and other healthcare workers are notoriously bad at getting flu vaccines for themselves.
As surely as autumn brings falling leaves and longer nights, every flu season brings with it the annual controversy surrounding vaccines for healthcare workers. Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people to get flu vaccines to protect themselves from the virus. And yet each year, new stats show that healthcare workers are among the worst offenders for not complying with those recommendations. Earlier this fall, 2011–2012 flu season stats from the CDC showed that in physician offices, one in three (32.3%) workers were not immunized. In long-term care facilities, nearly half (47.6%) of workers failed to get their flu shots.
According to other CDC data, voluntary measures for ensuring employee vaccination don't seem to work as well as mandatory ones. "During the 2010–2011 influenza season, coverage for influenza vaccination among healthcare workers was estimated at 63.5%," the CDC reports. However, "coverage was 98.1% among healthcare workers who had an employer requirement for vaccination."
Although vaccination mandates are growing more widespread, many organizations remain hesitant to make vaccinations a condition of employment, rendering the mandates effectively toothless.