3.The Mask Alternative
Here's an option for all of those who have non-medical, non-religious excuses for not getting a vaccine: breath through a mask all day.
The Rhode Island Department of Health announced in October that healthcare workers must be vaccinated against the flu, except for medical or religious reasons. Its new rules include a mask policy, which mandates that any healthcare worker that has filed an exemption without a medical reason must wear a surgical face mask during instances of patient contact throughout the flu season, and face a fine each time they do not comply with this policy.
At MGH, this is the first flu season that a mask policy has been implemented, says Gottlieb.
Last year the mask policy was meant to be an incentive for people to get vaccinated, but it was never implemented. This year, the mask policy was implemented very early on, because of the high incidence of flu. Failure to wear a mask is not subject to a specific penalty, though—it's up to the manager to address it with their employees.
The most innovative way I've seen for increasing flu vaccine compliance comes from an injection of humor in the provider community. If patient safety isn't enough to convince hospital workers to get vaccinated, humiliation via parody may get the job done.
Zubin Damania, MD, a former hospitalist and the director of healthcare development for a Downtown Las Vegas revitalization project, has created hundreds of videos addressing public health education with humor. Here's the flu shot video he made for a company-wide meeting at Zappos last fall: