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Should flu shots be mandatory for healthcare workers?

by AirTalk®

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Medical staff of the Saint Franciscus hospital receives a flu and H1N1 shot in Rotterdam on November 12, 2009. Around 180.000 workers of the 98 Dutch hospitals will be offered swine flu vaccinations. More than 5,700 people have died worldwide since the virus was first discovered in April, most of them in the Americas region, according to the World Health Organisation. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

You’re hearing it everywhere: PSAs on TV and the radio. Maybe from your boss, too. It’s time to get a flu shot.

“Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season,” is the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine doesn’t work for all flu viruses, but public health officials insist, the more people who get vaccination, the more protection we all have from catching a flu.

Even so, American workers who don’t often get sick may be tempted to skip the vaccination. Turns out, that’s true for a lot of people who work in hospitals, too. Some states and many more medical centers have responded by making the flu shot mandatory for health care workers.

Have you gotten your flu shot this year? Do you think it should be mandatory? And is there a difference between requiring health care workers to get it, and the average employee who isn’t out treating patients?


Dr. Arthur (Art) Caplan, Director, Division of Medical Ethics at NYU’s Langone Medical Center

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