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Honolulu Physicians and other workers who have direct contact with patients in long-term-care settings should be required to get the influenza immunization annually, said the American Medical Association House of Delegates. Workers who have medical contraindications or religious objections should be exempt from the vaccine requirement, said the policy adopted at the Association’s Interim Meeting. “Many health care organizations now have mandatory immunization,” said internist Eric Tangalos, MD, a delegate from Rochester, Minn., who spoke on behalf of the American Medical Directors Assn., which proposed the policy. “It saves lives, saves money and keeps people on the job. And with regard to [this resolution], we’re talking about protecting the most frail, most vulnerable population of patients.”
About two-thirds of all health care workers got the influenza vaccination during the 2011-12 flu season, and 86% of physicians were immunized, said the Sept. 28 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The immunization rate for health workers in long-term-care facilities was 52%, compared with 68% in physician offices and 77% in hospitals. Health care organizations that require their employees to get flu shots achieve an average immunization rate of 98%, the CDC said.
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