Flu Season...

Nurses General Nursing


Just got a hospital-wide email from my employer stating that all staff are required (underlined in the email) to get a flu vaccine this year. It went on to say that those with egg-allergy or "conscientious objectors" (direct quote--but they put it in quotes! as if that was a fictitious term to them) may have to wear a mask at all times during flu-season, they said "details are forthcoming."

I know this has been discussed during previous flu seasons. My confusion lies here: last year, my employer was not enforcing the flu vaccine with such vengeance as I see now. I never got the vaccine last year, and no one came after me, made me wear a mask, or even so much asked me if I had gotten one or not. No one even kept track. I would think that with all the hype about the Avian Flu last year, that they would have been strict about vaccinating employees then. Why this year, all of a sudden, are they trying to bully employees in to getting it? It was my understanding that this flu season is not predicted to be as bad as last year? Thoughts?

Ugh, just add this to the list of things that never fail to amuse me about the company I work for...

Specializes in Critical Care.

I know of a hospital about 30 mins away from me that did this last year. And that county's EMS agency was owned by the hospital, so they made all EMS workers that refused the vaccine to also wear a mask when they entered the hospital. Once I started working in healthcare, I started getting the flu vaccine every year, but I'm not sure how I would feel if I was mandated to do it.

I wonder, if someone is mandated to get the vaccine and then got guillain barre or CIDP from it, would this be considered a worker's comp situation?

Many hospitals, and states, did make an attempt at mandatory vaccinations for direct patient care providers. It went as they planned until there were difficulties obtaining the vaccine. Then it was handed out by priority for direct patient care. We had to wear something on our name badges to indicate whether we got the vaccine or not. During the height of the season there was a strict adherence to wearing the mask if you had not been vaccinated but most of our direct patient care providers did get the vaccine so it became a non-issue.

There was also conflicting information about what masks to wear. Again, when there was a shortage of N-95 masks, the surgical masks became okay. However, if the patient was on O2 devices other than a low flow nasal cannula, on a ventilator, was getting aerosols txs or had a confirmed H1N1 test, the N-95 was recommended for direct patient contact. I was relieved that we had the battery powered PAPR HEPA system to use and didn't have to fight for the appropriate masks.

But, what is believed to have made a difference in the H1N1 flu season from becoming more severe last year was the wide spread effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible and the heightened awareness. They may just want to prevent as many deaths as possible this year by having as many people vaccinated as they can. This year we also have the pertussis outbreak to remind us about vaccination as well.

The Guillain Barre issue is debated. However, if an employer doesn't take steps to protect employees with vaccinations and the employees contract a disabling strain of the flu, there is liability also. This brings us to Hep B, Pertusis, MMR and varicella vaccinations. Each pose risks but most of use know what Hep B or acquiring Chicken Pox can do especially as an adult. It is also made very clear in our policy that if we ignor certain precautions when working with (suspected) TB patients, we may not be entitled to workmen's comp. There is also a risk we must think about when it comes to exposing friends, family, co-workers and other patients if we become infected.

I personally am not wild about all the vaccinations required to work in certain health care situations either. But, I have also seen what can happen without some form of prevention and I don't want that either.

Specializes in Med Surg.

We are being "strongly encouraged" to get the vaccine this year. I took it last year and a couple of months later I got the flu anyway, just like I manage to do every year when I take it. I missed a couple of weeks I didn't have enough PTO to cover. I'll go ahead and make them happy and take it again this year. If I catch the bug again I have about a month's worth of PTO to recover in.

Specializes in OR, OB, EM, Flight, ICU, PACU.......

Many, many years ago, when I was in the Service, we were required , by regulation to recieve annual Flu vaccine, unless allergic to any of the ingredients. Every year, some time after getting the vaccination I would get, you guessed it, the Flu. I would be out for 5-7 days with my week-in-bed-sick-as-a-dog routine. According to the prevalent literature, there was a 1-3% chance of that very outcome.Still had to take them despite considerable documentation by my Physicians and PAs.

Once off active duty I swore never to take them again, and Viola!, no more Flu! Not even once. I was never one who subscribed to the Autism hoax and furor or anything else bad the hysterical "Press" attributed to vaccines.

Fast forward several decades: got my a** ripped by an Ingternal Med. guy who convinced me of the safety and efficacy of the current vaccines. I've been taking them without consequences for about 8 years now.

Our hospital started the same silliness about having to wear masks, sign waivers, use special entrances etc....... and not a single documented case of Flu,H1N1 last year ad nauseum.

I guess if you want to work there, it's their house, their rules!

Just my $.02.

I don't understand why this is a problem when requirement of other vaccines such as MMR and such are not balked at.

I don't understand why this is a problem when requirement of other vaccines such as MMR and such are not balked at.

Well for me getting the MMR one time as a child is a lot different than getting shot up with the flu vaccine annually.

Well for me getting the MMR one time as a child is a lot different than getting shot up with the flu vaccine annually.

I, and my employer, keep close tabs on my immunity and titers. I have taken the MMR for employment in the hospital and I again took the vaccination several years later when I enrolled in college to advance my education to the next level. I also had to get the varicella vaccination when my titers that existed from having chicken pox as a child were not longer at an acceptable level. Many years ago (1980s) when I got the Hep B vaccine (Heptavax), the first round did not give an acceptable titer either so I had to go through another series but after the newer vaccine came out. Heptavax was discontinued the following year.

I will admit I did not get the yearly flu vaccination regularly but when the H1N1 came along, I took notice of the risks and my own advancing age. For considerations of other vaccines, it pays to have yearly checkups complete with lab work especially if your employer offers this at their expense. It also is wise to read the literature available to you and make an informed decision before making across the board judgments.

Last year was a little different in my hospital when we had people dying from the flu who we wouldn't normally expect. There are always several deaths each year due to the seasonal flu and a few influenza A cases thrown in but generally nothing out of the "ordinary" expectations. Last year we just got a curve ball that made us take a step back and re-evaluate if anything could have been done differently even with the vaccine being offered. We were also lucky that only one employee that we know of tested positive for H1N1, which we don't believe was contracted from a patient, and was treated successfully. But, that employee did have youth and no pre-existing medical conditions on his side.

The 2010-2011 flu vaccine provides protection against A/H1N1 (pandemic) influenza and two other influenza viruses – influenza A/H3N2 and influenza B.

What does your hospital recommend you tell your patients about the flu vaccine?

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