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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

OSHA crashes mandatory flu shot party

The federal agency most directly charged with protecting health care workers has come out against mandating that they be immunized against seasonal influenza. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) --- which likely would be charged with enforcing any such edict -- cited “serious policy concerns” in arguing against a draft federal initiative that would clear the way for mandatory flu shots at hospitals that cannot achieve 90% flu vaccination rates. “OSHA believes that there must be a very high burden of proof that mandatory … programs are not just desirable, but also necessary to protect the public health before the government promotes such a controversial policy that may result in employment termination. At this time, OSHA believes there is insufficient evidence for the federal government to promote mandatory influenza vaccination programs that may result in employment termination.” The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) recommendations were drafted by its Healthcare Personnel Influenza Vaccination Subgroup. An advisory committee to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NVAC is scheduled to meet Feb. 7, 2012. The key recommendations in the draft includes the point that is generating considerable controversy: Facilities “that cannot achieve the 90% influenza goal in an efficient and timely manner, should strongly consider an employer requirement for influenza immunization.”

For more on this important development see the Feb. 2012 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.