Mandatory Influenza Vaccination for Healthcare Workers: Do Nurses Agree?
Influenza is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among hospitalized patients. Health care workers are considered a high-risk group for influenza, and annual vaccination is the most effective way to prevent getting influenza. Increasing concern about inadequate levels of healthcare work vaccination has led many groups to recommend mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers. The state of Rhode Island was considering mandatory vaccination in 2012 for all healthcare workers, with only medical exemption, but this movement was halted. Research focused on the perception of nursing personnel toward mandatory influenza vaccination is lacking, and considering that registered nurses are one of the largest healthcare groups that would be affected, this is an area of concern. The purpose of this research study was to examine the perception of nursing staff toward mandated vaccination at a hospital in Rhode Island. The survey used a mixed methods design, including forced choice questions and an open-ended question, developed for purposes of this research. The study participants included RNs employed in inpatient units. Most of the nurses disagreed that healthcare workers should be mandated to get immunization and disagreed that a vaccine policy requiring mandatory vaccination was fair. They also disagreed that hospital policy requiring influenza vaccination keeps them from getting influenza or keeps their patients from getting influenza. In one of the first states considering mandatory vaccination statewide, these results are an important consideration before implementation of this potential measure.