Health care/social assistance

Should health care workers have to get the flu shot?

Philadelphia – Two researchers in a new article take opposing views on mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers.

In the “Head to Head” article, Amy J. Behrman, medical director of Occupational Medicine Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, argues in favor of mandatory vaccinations. Citing the medical oath to “first do no harm,” Behrman states that being vaccinated provides protection for health care workers as well as the most vulnerable patients, including infants and elderly people. The University of Pennsylvania began requiring vaccinations for health care staff in 2009 after an unsuccessful effort to get more workers vaccinated voluntarily, according to a press release.

Conversely, Will Offley, a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital, claims vaccinations provide only partial immunity and have not been proven to reduce the spread of flu in hospital settings. In the absence of such evidence, vaccinations should be a personal decision, he stated.

The article was published online Nov. 12 in BMJ.