Mandatory Flu Vaccine — Fair or Not?

by Howard Gerber on December 3, 2014

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Mandatory-Flu-Shot-Nurse-Doctor-Healthcare-ProviderAs the weather gets colder and leafs starting changing colors, it means autumn is in the air.  But along with the beauty of the fall months comes the start of flu season. Although it can vary, flu seasons can start as early as October and often peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Getting the flu vaccine may protect you from the influenza virus. Researchers predict, which viruses are the most likely to be circulating during the upcoming flu seasons. The CDC recommends most people over the age of six months get a flu shot every year.

Flu Shots for Healthcare Providers

Hospitals across the country usually provide flu shots for their employees free of charge. In recent years, some healthcare facilities have been making it mandatory for healthcare workers to receive a flu shot. The reason for the mandatory flu vaccine is to increase compliance with the recommendations for healthcare workers to get the vaccine and to protect patients from possible infection.

The theory is that workers can spread the infection before they realize they are sick. Those opposed to the mandatory vaccine claim that forcing a flu shot is a violation of their personal rights and should not be allowed. Some opponents have argued that forcing a healthcare worker to get a flu shot takes away there their personal freedom.

Providing education to employees on the benefits of flu shots and encouraging vaccination may be enough to get healthcare workers to comply with the recommendations. Some professional organizations, such as the American Nurses Association, have issued a statement that they do not support mandatory vaccination.

Whether you are for mandatory flu shots or not, it is a good idea to understand the benefits and the possible side effects. The most obvious benefit from getting the flu vaccine is it may prevent you from becoming infected with the flu. Flu complications can be deadly, even in healthy people. Additionally, according to the CDC, if you do get the vaccine and develop the flu, it tends to be milder than if you were not vaccinated.

Some people may be afraid the flu shot will make them sick or cause serious side effects. There are different types of vaccines, including a nasal spray vaccine and a traditional shot.

Side effects from the flu vaccine are usually mild. According to The University of California at San Francisco, the flu shot cannot give you the flu. Although rare allergic reactions may occur, most side effects related to the shot are mild. Some people may develop swelling, redness, tenderness, or pain at the injection site. Mild headache and body aches are also a small possibility.

If you are working as a healthcare traveler, it is important to determine what the guidelines are at the facility where you will be working. If you are opposed to getting a shot, find out if the vaccine is mandatory.

Some facilities strongly encourage the vaccine, but it may not be mandatory. Other hospitals require employees who do not get the vaccine to wear a surgical mask while in all patient care areas during flu seasons.  If you do plan on getting the shot, keep in mind, it takes about two weeks for you to be protected from the virus after the vaccine.

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