MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine and Mon Health System have joined forces to protect the community from the spread of the flu virus. Polices have gone into effect at both healthcare institutions requiring their respective employees, medical staff, residents, and volunteers to be vaccinated against the flu as a condition of employment.  

The mandatory flu inoculation policies include provisions to apply for an exemption on religious or medical grounds. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis and are not a guarantee of exemption.  

“Thoughtful consideration was given to the safety and personal preference during the development of this policy,” Frank Briggs, Pharm.D., M.P.H., WVU Medicine vice president for quality and patient safety, said. “Given the long-standing safety of the vaccine, our main concern as healthcare providers remains the protection of our patients.”

“Requiring an annual flu vaccination demonstrates each health organization’s shared commitment to protecting the safety and health of patients – many of whom already have weakened immune systems. It also protects visitors, co-workers, and families,” Brian Hawthorne, M.D., vice president and medical director of Mon General Hospital, said.
    
Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. It is estimated that in the United States each year on average, 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of seasonal flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
    
The flu vaccine is the most effective method to prevent influenza. Influenza vaccination for healthcare personnel has been recommended for years. However, vaccination rates remain below recommended levels. In 2013-14, flu vaccination coverage among healthcare workers was 75.2 percent, according to the CDC. Voluntary programs have not been effective at increasing vaccination rates. Making the flu vaccine mandatory is a step that has been taken by many healthcare organizations throughout the country.
    
Working in a healthcare environment increases risk of exposure. People who become infected may only experience mild symptoms but still pass the virus to others.

Many national health advisory organizations, including the American Hospital Association, Infectious Disease Society of America, and American College of Physicians, support mandatory influenza immunization for healthcare workers. Other leading health care organizations, including Johns Hopkins University Hospitals, Mayo Clinic, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, have mandatory flu vaccination policies.

 

For More Information:
Lori Savitch, Mon Health System Director of Corporate Marketing, 304-285-2792, savitchl@monhealthsys.org 

–WVU MEDICINE/MON GENERAL–
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For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, WVU Medicine News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
ls/ajk: 08-05-15