Health-care associated influenza outbreaks are a common and serious public health problem that contribute significantly to patient morbidity and mortality and create a financial burden on health care systems.
In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all health care personnel should be required to receive an annual influenza vaccine. The policy, “Recommendation for Mandatory Influenza Immunization of All Health Care Personnel,” published in the October 2010 print issue of Pediatrics (published online Sept. 13), states that “despite the efforts of many organizations to improve influenza immunization rates with the use of voluntary campaigns, influenza coverage among health care personnel remains unacceptably low.”
Annual influenza epidemics account for 610 660 life-years lost, 3.1 million days of hospitalization, and 31.4 million outpatient visits. Flu generates a cost burden of approximately $87 billion per year in the United States. Mandatory influenza immunization for all health care personnel is “ethically justified, necessary and long overdue to ensure patient safety,” according to the statement. The influenza vaccine is safe, effective, and cost-effective, so health care organizations must work to assuage common fears and misconceptions about the influenza virus and the vaccine.