Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hospitals pushing workers to get flu vaccines:

By Richard Martin, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, September 17, 2009

They spread the message that the public should get the flu shot, but health care workers usually don't follow their own advice.

Every year, fewer than half of them get vaccinated, despite a government recommendation that puts them near the top of the list.

That could change this year, with the arrival of the H1N1 swine flu virus and a new vaccine for it. Hospitals here and nationally are stepping up efforts to vaccinate workers against both seasonal flu and H1N1. One state — New York — is even making flu vaccinations mandatory for health care workers.

Tampa General Hospital held an employee flu vaccine kickoff event Wednesday, offering free seasonal flu vaccines to workers. All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, which touts a 77 percent employee vaccination rate, plans a similar event later this month. Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg wants all of its workers vaccinated and is asking employees to wear masks at work if they choose not to get the shot.

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