Click on the link below to watch a video from Dr. Barbara Matthees, our SNHL department chair, on why the flu vaccine is required for our students and why she believes the vaccine is so important.
Not only does MSUM’s School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership require their students to obtain the influenza vaccination annually, but so do many health agencies. Below are details that Sanford Health has released to their staff explaining the need for immunization.
1. Why has Sanford decided to institute mandatory influenza immunization for all of its employees this year?
- Influenza frequently circulates and is spread in health care settings. Employees and healthcare workers are the obvious means by which influenza reaches patients.
- Influenza immunization in health care workers has been increasingly shown to be an important way to protect our sick and vulnerable patients from contracting influenza. Several studies have documented decreased mortality rates for patients in some health care settings by more aggressive immunization of the workers who care for them.
- Experts believe that to protect the most vulnerable around us we must achieve immunization rates greater than 90 percent of the group to stop or interrupt the circulation of the virus.
- Despite past widespread availability and promotion of the vaccine, health care worker immunization rates have remained mediocre, with typically 60-70 percent of employees complying. Many institutions have gone to mandating vaccination as a condition of employment, and multiple authoritative health organizations have all strongly advocated for mandatory HCW immunization against influenza.
2. I don’t get sick, why do I need to be immunized?
- Influenza causes a spectrum of illness that ranges from no symptoms at all to severe respiratory illness. Many people with influenza may only have the symptoms of a cold. This often doesn’t stop them from going to work, but certainly allows them to unwittingly spread the virus. In a study of health care workers at the end of the flu season, laboratory testing showed that about one fourth of them had been infected with influenza that season, yet almost 60 percent could not recall any flu-like illness, and 28 percent could not recall even milder respiratory illness. These people become silent-spreaders of the virus to those around them.
- Persons with influenza may “shed” the virus to others around them for up to a week.
3. I don’t believe the vaccine works. I got vaccinated last year, and I still got sick.
- There are many reasons why someone might still get sick despite immunization. These include: a) exposure to the virus before the vaccine has had a chance to work; b) exposure to a respiratory virus other than influenza which may produce symptoms identical to influenza; c) infection with an influenza virus strain not covered in the vaccine that season; and d) a person did not mount a good immune response to the vaccine.
- Despite the above limitations, many studies clearly document the benefits of immunization for workers, including nearly cutting in half the number of sick days and doctor’s visits by employees, and almost an 80 percent reduction in laboratory confirmed influenza.
Thank you to Sanford Health for this information!
Still not convinced? Watch this video and read more about getting vaccinated!