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Home > News > HSHS Mandates Flu Vaccine for Colleagues

9/8/2011

HSHS Mandates Flu Vaccine for Colleagues


SPRINGFIELD, IL - As part of its ongoing commitment to protect patients from the flu virus, Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) is requiring all employees and volunteers to get a flu vaccine by October 15.

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects about 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications and an average of 23,600 people die from the flu in the U.S. each year.

“Our first priority is patient safety. Recognizing that hospitalized patients often have compromised immune systems and are particularly vulnerable to influenza, we feel it’s necessary to require that all of our hospital colleagues and volunteers receive a flu vaccine or wear a mask to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Mary Starmann-Harrison, President and CEO, HSHS.

Previously HSHS had strongly encouraged colleagues to get the vaccine and achieved immunization rates between 60 to 70 percent. The goal of the new policy is to get 90 to 100 percent of staff vaccinated.

“Research overwhelmingly points to hospital staff vaccinations as the most effective way of protecting colleagues and patients from contracting the flu in the hospital,” said Dr. Robert Vautrain, HSHS Chief Quality Officer. “Mandatory policies requiring that staff get a flu vaccine or wear a mask are endorsed by leading health care organizations such as the American Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and National Patient Safety Foundation.”

For the small number of colleagues with a documented medical contraindication or an objection to the vaccine based on a religious belief, there will be process that allows them to decline the vaccine. The process will require that those who decline the vaccine to wear a mask at work. Every employee and volunteer who receives the vaccine will get a special sticker placed on their ID badge so that patients, visitors and colleagues know they’ve been immunized.

HSHS hospitals will be offering free flu vaccine clinics for staff, volunteers and physicians. Physicians not employed by HSHS cannot be required to get a flu vaccine, but will be encouraged to get one and will have access to the free clinics offered at the hospital. Students and contractors who regularly work in the hospital will be required to show proof of immunization or wear a mask.


Media Contact

Johanna Moll
Manager, Communications
(217) 492-9158
johanna.moll@hshs.org


Catie Sheehan
Vice President, Advocacy & Communications
 (217) 492-5823 
catie.sheehan@hshs.org


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