By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The American Medical Association (AMA) is asking any American 6 months of age or older, especially pregnant women, to receive a flu vaccine this year.

“Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, loved ones, and the public against the spread of flu. It also saves lives, especially vulnerable populations who aren’t eligible for vaccination such as babies younger than six months,” AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, said in a statement. “While October is the ideal time to get vaccinated against the flu, we urge every eligible American to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible because we know it’s the most effective way to protect against the flu and its potentially serious complications. The flu vaccine is particularly effective in reducing flu illness, doctor’s visits, missed work and school, and at preventing flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. It’s also a proven way to significantly reduce a child’s risk of influenza-associated death.”

Flu vaccines are just as important for healthcare workers. In the November issue of Hospital Employee Health, Amy Behrman, MD, FACP, FACOEM, co-chair of the Influenza Working Group of the National Adult Immunization and Influenza Summit, explains the improvement in vaccination rates among long-term care workers. Behrman’s organization recently partnered with the Immunization Action Coalition to create an “honor roll” for long-term care facilities that show strong flu vaccination rates.

Still, despite recent improvements, these facilities “lag far behind the vaccination rates in healthcare personnel in all other settings, despite the fact that their patients are at highest risk of complications and death,” Behrman says. “The evidence supporting vaccinating healthcare personnel to protect patients is actually the strongest in long-term care.”

Another article in the November issue of Hospital Employee Health details flu vaccine policies across various healthcare settings. These strong policies, in conjunction with education and other myth-busting campaigns, can lead to strong vaccination adherence. However, experts underline the need to ensure such policies are clear and equitable for all employees.

Click here to learn more about some of the legal landmines administrators should beware when creating flu vaccine policies this season.