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Nursing Management

August 2013, Volume 44 Number 8 , p 38 - 42


  • Kristin K. Vondrak DNP, ARNP-BC, NE, CPHQ
  • Patricia Starling BSN, RN, CIC
  • Jessica de Guzman RN MAN, NE-BC


The current landscape of healthcare is undergoing significant transformation due to financial constraints and personnel challenges related to a reduced, aging workforce. This is exacerbated by the acuity and chronicity of healthcare conditions that are plaguing our patients. One of the strategies being explored to keep patients and families safe, in addition to minimizing healthcare workforce absenteeism in an already taxed group, is mandating influenza vaccinations.Organizations across the nation are developing policies and procedures for implementing mandatory vaccination of employees, licensed independent practitioners, volunteers, and contract workers. There are associated challenges, such as cost and staff resistance, just to name a few. Creatively working through these hurdles is essential to realizing the benefits of protecting vulnerable patients and reducing costs related to absenteeism.In the United States, influenza is among the leading causes of death, with an average of 36,000 deaths per year and more than 200,000 hospitalizations. It's also responsible for the increase in mortality during the winter season. The primary patient population affected includes individuals over age 65 and those with underlying chronic illness, mirroring the patient population present today in our hospitals, intermediate care, and long-term-care facilities.1Influenza outbreaks can affect as many as 50% of exposed patients and 59% of exposed workers.2 Due to healthcare workers' close contact with patients who may have influenza, they're at greater risk for infection and becoming vectors of viral transmission. The probability of a healthcare-associated transmission is compounded by the tendency of most healthcare workers to continue to report for work even when they have influenza-like illness, increasing the risk of exposure to patients and other staff members.1,3 Incidentally, half of influenza infections may be asymptomatic, enabling transmission before the staff member exhibits

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