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December 4, 2009

Why is it important for CHOP to have a mandatory seasonal flu vaccine policy for healthcare workers?

December 4, 2009

Our seasonal flu vaccine policy is stronger than most hospitals in our region – and it should be, because we care for the sickest of sick children at CHOP.

Many of the children in our care have never had a chance to have a seasonal flu vaccine themselves so we have to do it for them. Many of our patients are either too young or their immune systems are too weak.

Their risk for severity of complications due to a seasonal flu infection is much higher than adults and healthy individuals. Among pediatric admissions to hospitals nationwide, 1 in 1,000 currently contract influenza while in the hospital. Our goal is to keep our patients safe from harm while they are in our care.

Last year with a voluntary seasonal flu vaccine campaign among employees, there were between 500-800 who did not get vaccinated. We believe that since we had a safe seasonal flu vaccine available for all of our healthcare workers this year, the wellbeing of our patients was more important than the desire of a few to not get vaccinated.

Of 9,400 healthcare workers in patient buildings at CHOP, nine healthcare workers made the choice to not be vaccinated despite our best efforts to provide additional education and counseling to help them arrive at a different decision. We are saddened they came to the decision to leave CHOP.

We offered opportunity to apply for medical and religious exemptions but did not offer exemptions based on personally held beliefs. We know it is the right thing to do for our patients and families.

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