Should Urgent Care Employees Be Required to Get the Flu Shot?

Should Urgent Care Employees Be Required to Get the Flu Shot?

You’re encouraging all of your patients to get the flu shot, but what about your employees? Flu vaccination among health care workers has been shockingly low over the last few years, leaving many urgent cares wondering: should you mandate flu vaccines for urgent care employees?

It’s a topic of much debate, but the answer is “yes” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. Each agency recommends all U.S. health care workers get vaccinated annually against the flu.

According to the CDC, over the last few years, flu vaccination among health care workers during the early flu season has held steady at around 63%. That means nearly half of health care workers aren’t getting vaccinated, putting patients and employees who are unable to get vaccinated at risk of catching the flu.

Why aren’t health care workers getting vaccinated? The CDC says that the most common reason health care workers don’t get the flu shot is because they don’t think it works. The second most common reason? They think they don’t need it.

Creating the seasonal flu vaccine isn’t the gamble many people think it is. More than 100 national influenza centers in more than 100 countries conduct year-round surveillance of the flu, which involves receiving and testing thousands of flu virus samples from patients. This data is used by the World Health Organization to create a recommendation for each season’s flu vaccine. This is quite an oversimplification of the process, of course, but the point remains: the flu vaccine is well-researched.

But does it work? The CDC’s research indicates that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu by 50 to 60 percent among the general population when the circulating virus is the vaccine virus. The flu vaccine can also reduce the severity and duration of illness if you do get sick.

So if the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, why should urgent care employees get it?

Getting the flu shot improves both patient and employee safety. Urgent care employees who aren’t vaccinated run the risk of becoming infected through contact with infected patients or infected coworkers. They may also spread the flu to patients and coworkers. A study cited by the National Institute of Health found that if all health care workers in a facility were vaccinated, then approximately 60 percent of patient influenza infections could be prevented. A 2013 study found that vaccination coverage climbed to 96.5 percent in health care facilities that required the vaccine. Vaccination coverage was 76.9 percent among health care workers at facilities where employers promoted but did not require vaccination. In other words, mandating your employees get vaccinated works.

The flu shot requirement may be even more relevant for urgent care employees because most clinics offer the vaccine to other employers through occupational medicine outreach.

“Getting a flu shot is one of the easiest and safest ways to protect yourself from illness this time of year. Those who work in and for health care organizations should understand that better than anyone,” said Dr. David Stern, CEO of Practice Velocity, where employees who get flu shots are offered a discount on their health insurance premium.

What should you tell employees who are worried about getting the flu from the vaccine? The flu shot does not cause the flu. Vaccines are made with either an inactive virus or no virus at all. The most common side effects from the flu shot are: soreness, redness or swelling at the site of the shot. Low-grade fever, headache or muscle ache is also possible.

In other words, tell them to get vaccinated.

From Startup to Success – Delta Urgent Care

From Startup to Success – Delta Urgent Care

Listen to testimonial from the owners of Delta Urgent Care in Houma, LA & Bayou Vista, LA. Another successful practice under the tutelage of Urgent Care Consultants. They just cut the ribbon on a brand new urgent care!

 
Video Transcript

You can’t do this nearly as efficiently, quickly, smoothly without having some direction. There are so many aspects of opening this type of facility.

Certainly a lot involved in opening up an urgent care – a lot more than we had even imagined.

There’s a whole lot that’s involved in getting a business of any kind started – particularly a medical business, which is complicated. But to try to do that alone would require tons of research, a lot of hours, and money as well. And I would definitely recommend using a consultant who’s done it many times before. Bonnie’s great! She takes a lot of interest in not only the business aspect, but has been a friend and is just interested in us as people. So, it’s been really nice working with her.

We’ll call her or she’ll get in touch with us and see how things are going; make sure there isn’t anything we have questions about or any needs – she’s always been there.

We began talking with Bonnie maybe even over two years ago when we first started thinking about opening our first clinic. And here we are, like I said, over two years later and we hit the ground running. We were seeing numbers that were above what we had expected.

This morning we had our ribbon cutting for our second location, and Bonnie flew down to be with us from Illinois – all the way down to Louisiana to be at our ribbon cutting. So that kind of tells you the kind of person she is. It makes you feel good. It lets us know that she’s interested in us and she’s interested in us succeeding for the long term.

It’s a great feeling having a second location now. Certainly it’s just the response from local people. We feel like it’s going to be a great asset to the community around us here.

I would definitely recommend starting with a consultant group – someone who’s been there before, done that, they already made the mistakes and they can definitely guide you in the right direction.

If you’ve never done it, it would take much longer and you would muddle your way through. You’d probably spend a lot more money making those mistakes without having someone to tell you, “Ok, you need to do XYZ.”

I think Bonnie and Urgent Care Consultants – they are the ones to compare everyone else to. I would certainly highly recommend them.