News Column

Flu Shot Rule Goes Down Easy

Oct. 9, 2012

Loretta Sword

Some members of nursing unions in Denver have protested the requirement and the way it will be enforced, claiming their jobs could be in jeopardy if they choose -- as some Coloradans do -- to avoid the potential complications of flu shots by declining to be vaccinated.

The law this year requires a documented vaccination rate among health care workers of 60 percent. The goal next year is 75 percent, and it will be 90 percent in 2015.

St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center spokeswoman Rochelle Kelly Wristen said the hospital achieved a 79 percent employee vaccination rate last year and is confident of meeting this year's goal.

Kelly Wristen said there has been no organized opposition to the new policy at the hospital, where a union-organizing effort has been under way for more than a year.

The policy requires vaccination of all employees who work in the medical and allied health fields, as well as "associates" and volunteers. Employees receive the vaccination free. Volunteers must provide proof of vaccination to the hospital by Dec. 15. Medical exemptions are the "only acceptable reason for not receiving the vaccination," according to information disseminated to all employees.

Those who opt not to be vaccinated will be required to wear a mask when in contact with patients during the flu season. At Parkview Medical Center, employee vaccinations have been encouraged in past years and will become mandatory next year.

Physicians and volunteers are not included in this year's mandatory vaccination policy for employees, but they will be included in the policy covering the 2012-14 flu season. Employees who decline vaccinations this year must do so in writing by Dec. 31, Peulen said. They will be required to wear masks in patient-care areas through the end of the season early next spring.

Peulen said there has been no organized opposition to the new vaccination policy.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)

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