(Vaccines available on Dix campus Oct. 15, 17)
BY JULIE HENRY, DHHS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
Beginning this fall, the 10,000 employees and volunteers in DHHS’s 14 state operated health care facilities are required to be immunized each year against flu. Employees were informed earlier this month of the new policy which requires them to be vaccinated by Dec. 1.
"More than 52 hospitals and health systems in our state have already made the judicious decision to implement mandatory flu vaccination policies to protect against illness," said Secretary Aldona Wos. "Because many of the patients and residents in our state facilities are at high risk for complications from flu, this is a responsible decision that will create a safer environment for our patients and staff."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, during the 2010-2011 influenza season, overall coverage for influenza vaccination among health care workers was estimated at 63.5 percent. Coverage was 98.1 percent among health care workers whose employer required vaccination.
Luckey Welsh, interim director of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities and CEO of Cherry Hospital, applauded the policy.
“With our voluntary policy, we saw employee flu immunization rates that were very similar to national levels,” he said. “But we want to see our numbers move closer to 100 percent and we are confident that a mandatory policy is the best way to achieve that goal.”
Flu vaccination clinics will be held on-site at all state health care facilities and DHHS office campuses through the fall. Employees who are covered by the State Employee Health Plan are eligible to receive vaccination at no charge. Look for more information to come from DHHS Human Resources about dates and times.
Employees of state operated facilities may opt to be vaccinated by a provider of their choice, but will be required to provide proof of vaccination at their workplace.