Drs Talk the Talk, Do They Take the shot
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|Tue, 12-09-2008 - 10:54am|
Docs Talk the Talk, but Do They Take the Shot?
Some Health Care Professionals Steer Clear of the Needle
By RADHA CHITALE
ABC News Medical Unit
Dec. 9, 2008 —
Every fall, the public is barraged by messages from doctors, nurses and other health care providers to get a flu vaccination to protect against the influenza virus.
But the truth is, some doctors and nurses might talk the talk without walking the walk.
A significant chunk of health care professionals declined to get vaccinated against the influenza virus last flu season, with only about 40 percent opting for a jab during the 2007-08 flu season. It's an "abysmal and profoundly sad" statistic, according to Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, Tenn.
"Both the professional and ethical responsibility of all health care workers is to be vaccinated annually against influenza," Schaffner said.
Vaccination serves to protect both patient and health care provider from becoming infected with influenza, as well as from transmitting the contagious virus to others.
Pains, Aches and Chills
One in five Americans get the flu every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these, 200,000 are hospitalized and about 36,000 die.
Schaffner added that, in the midst of an influenza outbreak, it is crucial to have healthy people on hand to take care of patients.
"We need health care workers on the line delivering medical care," Schaffner said. "We don't need them home sick."
There are legitimate reasons to steer clear of the needle. People with an egg allergy might avoid getting the vaccine because viruses for the flu shot are grown in eggs. People with Guillain-Barre syndrome -- a disease that results in nerve damage -- should avoid getting vaccinated as well, since respiratory illnesses can trigger an episode.