Sign the Petition to National Vaccine Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

This petition closed 4 months ago

"The idea that a pregnant woman can enter a hospital and deliver a baby in a place where employees aren't required to take every step possible to guard against a preventable disease ... I just think that many people would be stunned by that."
- Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health.

From the 1600s to the 1800s childbed fever was at epidemic proportions. Up to 40% of women at some hospitals contracted it and it was often fatal. Late in the 1800s it was discovered that it was the doctors themselves who were responsible. By not washing their hands between patients they were actively transmitting the bacteria that caused Puerperal fever (childbed fever) from woman to woman. After that discovery healthcare workers started to wash their hands and a significant part of modern medicine came into being.

Flu shots have become the modern day equivalent of hand washing. Just as the practice of hand washing was resisted by health workers (indeed hand hygiene is still inadequate at many facilities) there is a lot of resistance to the flu vaccine. Heath workers should understand the importance of vaccination better than most of us, but only 63.5% were vaccinated last flu season.

It is unacceptable for healthcare workers to take unnecessary risks with the lives of their patients. The very nature of their employment argues against it. And yet many healthcare workers either neglect to get their flu shots or actively choose not to get them. The price of this negligence and/or intransigence is that more people under their care contract influenza. Since people under care are often unable to receive flu shots or are too old for flu shots to be effective, the outcome is that more people die or become seriously ill.

This petition will be forwarded to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. They issued a draft proposal at the beginning of this year about their plans to increase Influenza vaccine coverage to 90% by 2020. The draft can be found here: http://www.hhs.gov/nvpo/nvac/subgroups/nvac_adult_immunization_work_group.pdf. The recommendations included one that says facilities that cannot achieve this by other means should strongly consider mandating flu shots. This petition asks that this be amended to propose a national mandate that would apply to all health professionals. It further asks that patients be given the right to opt-out of being treated by anyone who is not vaccinated.

By signing this petition you are taking a stand for your children, parents, yourself and your community. No one should catch the flu from their doctor or nurse. It is not necessary. Most healthcare workers understand this. A national mandate will immediately raise compliance and will protect many thousands of people who are today facing unnecessary risk.

A story from PBS News Hour points out that "the virus can be transmitted to patients by both symptomatic and asymptomatic health care providers. One in four health care workers shows evidence of having the flu each year. And 70 percent of them continue to work despite having flu-like symptoms." This is dangerous and senseless.

We need a national mandate.

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