|Choice should be Mandatory|
Local hospitals are finding that mandates are the best way to boost flu-vaccination rates among their workers. This fall, Mount Carmel Health System became the most-recent central Ohio hospital system to require employee flu vaccinations. By late January 2013, OhioHealth said it will begin to hold accountable any employees who disregard a similar mandate that it first told them about during the 2011-12 flu season. Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital began requiring employees to get the vaccine three years ago following the H1N1 flu scare.
“The concern was, no one knew how severe this would be,” said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, an infectious-disease specialist at Children’s. Even well-meaning employees could spread the flu virus before realizing that they had symptoms, he said. Mandates significantly increased vaccination rates at both hospitals.Coverage at Children’s was 96 percent during the 2011-12 flu season, up from 61 percent four years earlier, before the mandate took effect. Wexner Medical Center’s vaccination rate reached 85 percent during the 2011-12 flu season. That’s up from 34 percent during the 2008-09 flu season, but the earlier rate is likely an undercount because it doesn’t include employees who received flu vaccinations outside the workplace. By comparison, OhioHealth and Mount Carmel reported 2011-12 vaccination rates of 60 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
Vaccine Exemption Forms