Hospital workers get ready for flu vaccinations - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hospital workers get ready for flu vaccinations

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - The regular flu season is right around the corner, and with the H1N1 strain also looming, health care facilities are trying to get their own employees ready. Some hospitals and clinics have even toyed with the idea of requiring their workers to get the regular flu shot. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were considering a mandate, but dropped it due to strong opposition.

Two Cedar Rapids hospitals say they probably won't need to go that far. St. Luke's clinical officer says it's about taking responsibility to keep patients safe.

"We've asked our employees to do one of two things," said Mary Ann Osborn.

The first is to simply get vaccinated. "We think for the vast majority of our associates, that's the best way for them to go."

However, she says employees who decline vaccinations due to personal or medical reasons have an option. "We've asked them to do the alternative, which is to wear a mask when in the patient care areas, or when in the public hallways or public waiting rooms, from now through the flu season."

Osborn says St. Luke's workers are not required to get flu shots, but are highly encouraged to do so. The same goes at Mercy Medical Center, which has instituted a campaign to motivate its staff to get shots, and dispel any common myths about them.

Chad Ware, Emergency Management Coordinator, says one example is that many people still believe a flu shot will give them the flu. "The actual vaccine itself is no longer a live virus, so it doesn't actually give you the flu. The nasal spray is a live virus, so you can have some symptomatic response based off getting that," said Ware.

He explained that any workers who refuse the flu vaccine may also be required to wear surgical masks. "It's definitely within our plans of rolling out through the process. We haven't gotten to that yet."

As of Wednesday, 1,200 of St. Luke's 3,000 staff members had been vaccinated. Mercy will start vaccinating its staff on October 12th.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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