Joint Policy Statement Issued on Mandatory Immunization of Health Care Personnel

Posted on December 20, 2013

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS) (“Societies”) support universal immunization of health care personnel (HCP) by health care employers (HCEs) as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for HCP.*

Although some voluntary HCP vaccination programs have been effective when combined with strong institutional leadership and robust educational campaigns mandatory immunization programs are the most effective way to increase HCP vaccination rates. As such, when voluntary programs fail to achieve immunization of at least 90% of HCP, the Societies support HCE policies that require HCP documentation of immunity or receipt of ACIP-recommended vaccinations as a condition of employment, unpaid service, or receipt of professional privileges.

For HCP who cannot be vaccinated due to medical contraindications or because of vaccine supply shortages, HCEs should consider, on a case-by-case basis, the need for administrative and/or infection control measures to minimize risk of disease transmission (e.g., wearing masks during influenza season or reassignment away from direct patient care).

The Societies also support requiring comprehensive educational efforts to inform HCP about the benefits of immunization and risks of not maintaining immunization.*

ACIP-RECOMMENDED VACCINES FOR HCP: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/hcw.html.

RATIONALE

1. Immunizing HCP against vaccine-preventable diseases protects both patients and HCP from illness and death associated with these diseases.

2. Immunizing HCP also prevents them from missing work during outbreaks, which would further negatively impact patient care.

3. Immunization rates for ACIP-recommended vaccines remain low among HCP

4. Mandatory immunization programs are necessary where voluntary programs fail to maintain adequate HCP vaccination rates.

5. ACIP-recommended vaccines are proven to be safe, effective, and cost-saving

6. Educational programs increase HCP compliance with vaccination programs, but standing alone do not consistently achieve adequate vaccine coverage levels.

7. The provision of immunizations at no cost in the occupational setting increases HCP immunization compliance.

8. Physicians and other health care providers are obligated “to do good or to do no harm” when treating patients (see, e.g., Hippocratic Corpus in Epidemics: Bk. I, Sect. 5, trans. Adams), and they have an ethical moral obligation to prevent transmission of infectious diseases to their patients.

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