To Be or Not To Be (Vaccinated): Influenza Vaccine Optional for Staff

Staff are not required by The Joint Commission to receive the influenza vaccine. The elements of performance in standard IC.02.04.01 address the requirements about influenza vaccines. Hospitals are required to:

  • Develop an annual influenza vaccination program.
  • Offer influenza vaccines to licensed independent practitioners and staff at sites that are accessible to them.
  • Educate licensed independent practitioners and staff about the vaccine, including: nonvaccine control and prevention measures; diagnosis of influenza; transmission of influenza; and impact of influenza
  • Evaluate vaccination rates and the reasons why individuals decline the vaccination on an annual basis.
  • Implement measures to increase influenza vaccination rates.

The Joint Commission wants you to take steps to increase influenza vaccination rates through education and accessibility, but does not suggest that you force licensed independent practitioners and staff to take the vaccine. Remember that the influenza program includes not only staff, but also licensed independent practitioners.

To increase your organization’s influenza vaccination rates, you should understand why healthcare workers accept or decline vaccination. According to The Joint Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common reasons why healthcare workers decline the influenza vaccine include:

  • Perception that the symptoms are not that bad
  • Perception that the vaccine does not work
  • Lack of physician recommendation
  • Fear of needles
  • Desire to only use homeopathic remedies

Reasons why healthcare employees accept the influenza vaccine include:

  • Desire to protect patients
  • Professional responsibility
  • Easy access to vaccinations or convenience
  • Desire to avoid missing work
  • Strong work site, peer or personal physician recommendation

For more information about the influenza vaccine, check out the Joint Commission/OSHA Compliance course from Mosby’s eLearning. For more information, please call 866-416-6697 or email [email protected]

The Joint Commission. Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Joint Commission Resources, 2009.

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