S.F. Bay Area Health Officials Require Flu Shots for Medical Staff
County health officials in the San Francisco Bay Area are requiring medical staff to receive an influenza vaccination or wear a surgical mask while at work, the Bay Citizen reports.
All California hospitals are required to offer no-cost flu shots to workers, who must either receive the shot or sign a statement declining to do so.
However, vaccination rates among health care workers in the state still are low, according to health officials.
According to data from the state Department of Public Health, 60% of individuals working in California hospitals were vaccinated during the 2010-2011 flu season.
Brown said in his veto message that he was confident that local governments and health care facilities could increase vaccination rates without a new state law.
Details of Bay Area Requirement
Bay Area health officials hope the requirement will help curb the spread of the flu to patients who are most vulnerable to its complications, such as elderly residents.
However, the officials say that they do not have enough resources to enforce the new requirement and must leave the responsibility to hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities.
Reaction to Requirement
Although the California Nurses Association recommends that workers receive the vaccine, it opposes requirements that workers who do not receive the vaccines wear masks.
The California Association of Health Facilities also opposes requirements that unvaccinated workers wear masks.Deborah Pacyna -- a spokesperson for CAHF -- said, "We're trying to create a homelike environment, and then you've got someone with a mask coming to take care of you." She added, "That could be disconcerting to a vulnerable elder" (Mieszkowski, Bay Citizen, 12/12). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.