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The CDC also recommends a flu shot for people age 50 and over, the chronically ill, and women who will be pregnant during the flu season. This year virtually all children from 6 months to 18 years were added to the list.
Several states have laws requiring hospitals to make the vaccines available.
In Iowa, University Hospitals requires documentation that all health care workers were offered the vaccine, but workers are free to decline, as Taylor, the ER nurse, did. Dr. Patrick Hartley, who heads the hospital's employee health clinic, said in the last flu season, 84 percent of employees got their flu shots.
At Allen Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, the flu shot is mandatory for those with direct patient contact and recommended for everyone else. Those with allergies to the vaccine or other conditions can take a pass, but they must supply a note from their doctor. The hospital says the vaccination rate is 93 percent.
Some hospitals take a tougher stand on vaccinations.
In Seattle, at Virginia Mason Medical Center, even sales reps, vendors and volunteers must be vaccinated unless they seek exceptions for religious or medical reasons. Even then, those who don't get a shot must wear a mask whenever they are in the hospital during the flu season.
About 99 percent of the hospital's more than 5,000 employees were vaccinated.
Dr. Joyce Lammert, the hospital's chief of medicine, said they lost around seven employees when the policy took effect four years ago.
"A lot of reasons we heard about people not wanting flu shots was all about them -- it's my freedom, I don't want to get it, I get sick when I get it," Lammert said. "Now, the culture has really changed to thinking about patients. This is what we do to protect our patients."
Lammert said patients should ask their doctors if they've gotten their flu shot.
"I wouldn't go to anybody who didn't," she said.
On the Net:
CDC flu information:
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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