There's been an ongoing debate about whether healthcare workers should be required to get flu vaccines. Often the focus of that debate has been the rights and responsibilities of nurses.
But a new study suggests that when healthcare workers do get vaccinated, the consequences go beyond the hospital and reach into the larger community.
The study, presented over the weekend at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's (APIC) 41st Annual Conference, shows that for every 15 healthcare providers who receive the influenza vaccination, one fewer person in the community will contract an influenza-like illness.
"Healthcare personnel vaccination extends beyond the walls of the hospital," the study author, James Marx, PhD, RN, CIC, infection preventionist consultant at Broad Street Solutions in San Diego, told me via email.
Marx analyzed archival data from the California Department of Public Health from between 2009-2012 for the study. A correlation design study determined the relationship between vaccination of hospital healthcare personnel and influenza-like illness in the community; hospitalization due to respiratory infection; and death from pneumonia or influenza. 1 in 3
According to the abstract, "There was an inverse relationship between vaccination rates of health care personnel and influenza morbidity as measured by influenza-like illness when three consecutive years of data were combined and analyzed."