This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition
Health care providers are urging their patients to get flu shots this fall – against the regular seasonal flu and the new swine flu virus.
Uh . . . physicians, heal thyself.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, fewer than half of health care workers got a flu shot last year. That might fly during a normal flu season, but the 2009-2010 season is shaping up to be anything but normal.
The nation’s health care delivery system may be taxed far more than usual due to the new swine flu virus (H1N1). It will need its providers healthy and on the job, not out sick with the flu or, worse, at work with the flu and spreading it to vulnerable patients.
State health officials should give serious consideration to requiring health workers to be immunized against both types of flu – a step New York has already taken. At this point, it’s still voluntary in Washington state.
The swine flu virus is already here – witness the big outbreak at Washington State University. But it will be five or six weeks before immunizations are available for high-risk populations – pregnant women; young people 6 months to 24 years old; caregivers of infants under 6 months; health and emergency medical workers; and adults 25-64 with pre-existing lung or heart problems, or compromised immune conditions. Read more »