Healthcare Worker Immunization

If you could save the life of another person by undergoing a minor medical intervention, would you hesitate to do it? What if you could potentially save dozens of lives?

Healthcare workers can reduce or eliminate spreading contagious diseases simply by being vaccinated. Because they are at risk for exposure to serious, and sometimes deadly diseases, it is critical they stay current with the appropriate vaccines to reduce the chance of transmitting disease to their vulnerable patients or bringing it home to their families. Over the past hundred years, vaccination is credited with preventing more illness and death than any other medical advance¹.

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommend that all U.S. healthcare workers get vaccinated annually against influenza. Influenza can be a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. It can affect anyone—even those who are otherwise healthy and can also be spread to others even when the infected person doesn’t feel sick. Paul Carson, MD, FACP, Professor of Practice, Management of Infectious Diseases, Dept. of Public Health, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, states “Influenza is a serious threat that kills between 30,000-40,000 people every year.”

Professionals who care for patients accept an overriding ethical imperative embodied in the Hippocratic Oath—first, do no harm. Unvaccinated workers who spread the flu can cause tremendous harm. This is especially true when vulnerable patients are involved. Dr. Carson continues, “Those at the extremes of age, and those who are frail from chronic medical problems are the most likely to develop complications or die (i.e., the kinds of people we in healthcare are around every day). It is well established that healthcare workers are not an uncommon source of transmission of influenza to their patients. It is absolutely incumbent upon us, who profess to put our patients first, to do everything in our power to assure our patient’s safety when in our care. Getting an annual influenza vaccine is a small gesture we can all do to help protect those we care for.”

Not only does influenza causes thousands of deaths each year in the U.S., it costs more than $87 billion in lost productivity and is responsible for the loss of close to 17 million workdays. “Influenza vaccination not only benefits our patients by helping us protect them, it obviously does this by helping to protect us. And in turn, this helps protect those we love. In an average year, the vaccine will protect a person over 65% of the time. Vaccinated workers have 44% fewer doctors’ visits and 43% fewer sick days off during flu season, and employers will save almost $3 for every dollar spent immunizing their employees. Influenza vaccination is a no-brainer when it comes to return on investment.”

Healthcare worker vaccinations can play a key role in protecting the health and safety of healthcare workers and patients, reducing absenteeism, lowering health care costs and limiting other negative impacts of influenza.

The Great Plains QIN collaborates with providers, patients, partners and stakeholders to implement best practices to increase immunization rates for influenza. A learning opportunity, Improving Adult Immunizations and the Importance of Healthcare Worker Immunization, will be offered virtually on August 30, 2018. Dr. L. J. Tan will discuss the importance of healthcare worker immunization in terms of disease prevention and economic burden as well as share strategies to improve healthcare worker immunization coverage rates. Click here to lean more and to register.

Resources for Those Vaccinating HCWs


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ten great public health achievements—United States, 1900–1999 MMWR Wkly 19994812241–243.Available at: