This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Of all people in the world, those who work in hospitals and medical clinics – physicians, nurses, cafeteria workers, etc. – ought to be vaccinated against influenza.
It shouldn’t even be controversial. Many patients are fragile and highly susceptible to the flu. They can’t rely on “herd immunity,” which can protect unvaccinated members in a group that is mostly immunized. All it takes is one infected nurse or aide to spread the potentially deadly flu virus to the severely ill.
Shockingly, though, roughly half the country’s hospital workers aren’t getting flu shots. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimated that only 62 percent of health care professionals – a category that includes doctors and registered nurses – got the vaccine in the 2009-2010 flu season.
Washington does quite a bit better than that. The Washington State Hospital Association recently announced that nearly all of the state’s hospitals now require that their employees either get flu shots or take other protective measures.
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