UPMC staff working in clinical areas will be required to get flu shots

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Beginning in fall 2015, UPMC staff members working in clinical areas will be required to get a flu shot, the health system announced Friday.

“Influenza is a very serious — and potentially deadly — disease,” said Tami Minnier, chief quality officer of the Pittsburgh health system, in a release. “It is easily spread from person to person, which is very worrisome in a health care setting.”

Employees who decline to get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons would be required to wear a mask any time they are within 6 feet of patients or other staff members.

A year ago, UPMC began requiring employees wishing to decline the shot to participate in an education program. Its flu vaccination rate increased more than 10 percent.

Employees not in clinical areas may decline the flu shot but must still go through the education program.

UPMC will join several other health systems in requiring vaccinations. One of the first locally was Butler Health System, which has been requiring newly hired staff to agree to be vaccinated since 2006. The movement gained momentum in light of the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

The website for Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins, which also mandates flu shots for anyone working in a patient care area, says 15 states have passed legislation requiring the vaccinations for health care workers in certain circumstances.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta also recommends all health care personnel get flu shots to reduce or prevent spread of the virus.

First Published August 29, 2014 10:20 AM

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