Registered nurses are on the front lines of our health care system and play a critical role in preventing and treating the spread of influenza.
As the most trusted health professionals in the nation, you can have a positive impact on the health of our communities and keep our state’s influenza levels low.
A flu vaccine recommendation and offer from you makes a huge difference. Yearly flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. It is especially important for those at high risk for flu-related complications. Consider getting vaccinated to protect yourself and others from the flu and remind patients to get a flu shot. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent hand washing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses, like flu.
WSNA's position on mandatory influenza vaccinations and strategies to address influenza
"The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) is committed to advocating for the health of nurses, patients and the communities they serve. Because of this commitment, WSNA strongly recommends that all nurses and other health care providers be vaccinated against all influenza viruses. WSNA strongly supports and urges voluntary efforts that aim for 100% vaccination rates, including annual education and implementation of comprehensive influenza vaccination programs for all health care providers.
WSNA supports enforcement of existing Federal and State regulations to ensure that all employers meet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requirements for influenza prevention.
WSNA believes a hospital-by-hospital approach to mandatory vaccinations is poor public policy. It lacks consistency and adequate protection for patients and health care workers. WSNA believes that any vaccination policy is only one component of a comprehensive influenza prevention policy and should only be enacted as a result of federal or public health regulation. WSNA believes that any such regulation must include the following core components:
- Employers must ensure that appropriate protection and safety measures are in place to provide a safe workplace environment for nurses and health care workers.
- Employers must ensure that influenza vaccines are available and offered to every health care worker annually at convenient times and locations.
- The policy must cover all health care settings and health care workers. This includes all settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, adult boarding homes, outpatient clinics, etc. Health care workers must include those licensed and unlicensed who work in close proximity to patients, (e.g. nurses, emergency responders, physicians, housekeeping personnel, health care secretarial staff, etc).
- If a declination form is required for vaccination, the nurse must be able to sign the form confidentially; that is, the nurse must not be required to divulge personal health information or declare the reason(s) for refusal of a vaccine. The employer must not discriminate against or discipline a nurse for opting out.
- The employer must not discriminate against or discipline nurses for the appropriate use of sick time.
- The employer must comply with CDC and OSHA Guidelines must be used for prevention, protection, and safety of nurses and patients."
Adopted by the WSNA Board of Directors, Dec. 4, 2009.
Reviewed Oct. 20, 2017.