Physician, vaccinate thyself

February 1, 2008

An appeal to physicians to get the flu vaccine.

As health care professionals across the nation treat millions against influenza each season, many still fail to get vaccinated themselves. About 58% went unvaccinated in 2006. This greatly increases their chance of getting and spreading influenza to vulnerable patients.

Children who visit a doctor's office or hospital may therefore confront a major and troubling source of influenza virus transmission: their own nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual influenza vaccination for all health care professionals, according to an article in the July 13, 2007 MMWRRecommendations and Reports, only 42% of health care professionals were vaccinated against influenza in 2006.

Due to the importance of influenza immunization of health care professionals, the Joint Commission created a standard, calling on facilities to offer influenza vaccine to its staff. CDC has issued a recommendation for vaccination of all health care professionals ( http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5502a1.htm). And groups concerned about protecting children, such as the Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition, have dedicated resources to this topic (see http://www.preventchildhoodinfluenza.org/healthcare/).