The Hospital chain FirstHealth of the Carolinas is enforcing its mandatory flu shot policy that was adopted over the summer, telling employees who routinely work in patient care areas to get their annual flu vaccine.
The only exceptions are extreme allergy to eggs or a component of the flu vaccine or a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, documented by a physician. The chain noted that 32 staff members had been granted a medical exemption and will be required to wear a mask while in patient care areas during flu season.
"So far, only a few employees have indicated they would leave FirstHealth rather than have the flu shot," the hospital noted in a press release. Volunteers who do not have a medical exemption or have not received the flu vaccine by Dec. 31 will not be allowed to volunteer in a FirstHealth hospital, the Hospice House or in other patient care areas for the remainder of the flu season.
It's a move shared by many hospitals, and vaccination rates have risen for health care workers overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted, although the goal is to have more than 90% compliance.
It's entirely possible for hospitals to achieve nearly complete compliance, notes Albert Wu, MD, FACP, of Johns Hopkins. He tweeted that more than 4,000 employees at his organization have a 99.9% flu vaccination rate.