The UM_SPH tweet this morning reminded me that this week I needed to stop by one of the numerous flu clinics at the hospital and get my flu shot.
As an employee of UMHS, the flu shot is complementary, which makes sense in terms of infection control. No one wants to come into the hospital for something minor and leave with something like the flu that they contracted from an employee. Especially with the recent study indicating with that the use of waterless hand sanitizer (such as purell) may not prevent the spread of the flu virus, the flu vaccine just makes sense.
I have always gotten my flu vaccine while working at UMHS because I work in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where I am interacting with patients all day. However this year, all employees received an email indicating a new policy regarding flu vaccination. The key part of the email read:
“This month, we join dozens of other health care institutions nationwide in requiring influenza (flu) vaccination or protective mask use during flu season. This requirement applies to all members of the UMHS community who interact face-to-face with our patients in any way.”
Although this may be interpreted as forced vaccination, it makes sense to me. As with any vaccine, the strength is in the concept of herd immunity, where, if enough individuals in a community are immune to the disease and therefore cannot contribute to its spread, there will not be enough potential hosts for the virus or pathogen to survive.
Public Health is all about preventative medicine, and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s about stopping people from getting sick before they get sick. The flu vaccine does just that, and I therefore will be quite happy to comply with the new requirements at UMHS and applaud the administration for making a decision like this. In fact, I’m going to go get my flu vaccine right now.