Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 02-March-2007, Vol 120 No 1250
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The Health and Safety in Employment Act and the influenza vaccination of healthcare workers
Stuart McLennan, Leo Anthony Celi, Paul Roth
Despite studies demonstrating that the annual influenza vaccination of healthcare workers has a statistically significant reduction of morbidity and mortality among the patients they care for, and District Health Boards (DHBs) establishing voluntary programs to provide the influenza vaccine to healthcare workers free of charge, vaccination rates among healthcare workers are dismal, with only about 20%–40% coverage rates being achieved.
With these low rates posing a serious health threat to the vulnerable patient populations that are entrusted into healthcare workers’ care, and the current voluntary programmes clearly failing to adequately address this issue, we believe the time has come for the annual influenza vaccination to be made a mandatory requirement for all healthcare workers with direct patient contact unless a medical contraindication exists.
Indeed, a compelling case may be made that the duties imposed on DHBs and healthcare workers under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 requires making the annual influenza vaccination an occupational requirement.
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