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Saint Raphael’s flu vaccination policy promotes prevention

By Hospital of Saint Raphael

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The Hospital of Saint Raphael has entered peak flu season with 90 percent of employees opting to get influenza vaccinations. The high rate is a result of an intensive campaign to promote vaccination as a way to protect patients and staff from influenza.

“We are very pleased with this year’s high rate of compliance from our employees, who recognize the vital importance of influenza vaccination to the health of our patients,” said John Boyce, M.D., section chief of Infectious Disease at the Hospital of Saint Raphael. “This simple preventative measure by employees can save lives.”

Guided by recommendations from health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Lung Association, Saint Raphael’s this year required employees to either formally accept or decline influenza vaccination by Dec. 15, 2010.

Employees who opt out of vaccination, even if for medical reasons such as an allergy to flu vaccine components, are required to wear medical face masks at all times while at work in all departments now that the CDC has declared that influenza is widespread in Connecticut. Medical face masks are worn to prevent the spread of flu via coughing or sneezing.

Saint Raphael’s is in the vanguard of hospitals nationwide requiring their employees to receive the flu vaccine, a group which includes the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, the BJC Healthcare hospital network in St. Louis and the Johns Hopkins Health System.

According to the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, health care organizations with high vaccination rates can cut patient death rates from flu by up to 40 percent. Vaccination also keeps employees healthier and helps prevent workplace disruptions: A 1994 study of healthy working adults showed that those with vaccinations have 25 percent fewer upper respiratory infections, 44 percent fewer doctor’s visits and 43 percent fewer sick days.

To find out more about flu prevention, visit the Saint Raphael’s website at www.srhs.org/flufacts.

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