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July/August 2010
Policy and Advocacy
IDSA Urges CDC to Support Mandatory Influenza Vaccination for HCWs

New draft guidance on influenza prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a step in the right direction, according to IDSA, but the guidance falls short in one key area: It does not include a definitive recommendation for mandatory influenza vaccination of heath care workers (HCWs).

That was the message IDSA sent to CDC in a July 15 letter, in response to CDC’s request for public comment on its draft “Updated Guidance:  Prevention Strategies for Seasonal Influenza in Healthcare Settings.” Overall, IDSA supports the new draft guidance, which would expand and replace the previous seasonal influenza guidance as well as the Interim Guidance on Infection Control Measures for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Healthcare Settings. 

  • Among the revisions that IDSA supports, CDC is proposing that health care workers:
  • wear face masks around patients with confirmed or suspected influenza
  • wear respirator devices during aerosol-generating procedures
  • utilize negative pressure rooms, when available, during higher-risk procedures

In many respects, the draft updated guidance keeps pace with evolving science and is more in line with principles IDSA expressed last fall concerning infection prevention and control measures that should be implemented in response to H1N1, particularly the new provisions on personal protective equipment. (See this related article in the Oct. 2009 issue of IDSA News.)

But IDSA continues to highlight the fact that immunization is one of the most effective strategies to prevent influenza. “Because HCWs are essential to caring for those with influenza and its complications, and because they care for highly vulnerable patients who if infected are at risk for prolonged hospitalization, other complications, and death, it is critical that HCWs be immunized against influenza,” IDSA President Richard Whitley, MD, FIDSA, said in the letter to CDC. “Mandating such a policy emphasizes that this is a patient safety issue.”

In addition to sending its own comment letter, IDSA also encouraged IDSA members to submit comments. Eighteen members wrote comments to CDC in support of IDSA’s position.

CDC’s draft Updated Guidance is available here.  
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