Is the flu vaccine an ‘ethical obligation’ for doctors?

wma-logoAs winter approaches, the World Medical Association is encouraging doctors to have their annual flu vaccine.

Healthcare workers, including staff in nursing homes, are advised to have the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their patients from infection.

The WMA says doctors working with the sick, older people, children and pregnant women have an obligation to have the vaccine:

"It’s critically important – an ethical obligation – that we protect our patients against influenza. And the most effective and efficient way of preventing outbreaks is through our own pre-exposure immunization. Getting an annual shot can reduce influenza infections between you and your colleagues by 88% and reduce mortality among your patients by a very significant 50%."

Doctors tell doctors: "Get your flu shot"

Yet, uptake of flu vaccines among health workers is still relatively low in some countries. In the US, a number of hospitals have become so concerned about uptake rates that have made immunisation against seasonal influenza a condition of employment – effectively making it mandatory for staff.

However, recent research has questioned the evidence for vaccinating all health workers and not all hospital staff have direct contact with vulnerable patients. So the question is whether doctors should be required to have the vaccine every winter.

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Should flu vaccine be mandatory for hospital staff?

Is flu jab becoming the norm for health workers ?