With influenza season not far away, the Allegheny County Health Department wants to increase the number of workers at the 18 Pittsburgh area hospitals who receive flu shots.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 63.5% of health care workers nationwide were vaccinated against the flu last season. "That is surprising," said Dr. Ron Vorhees, the acting director of the County Health Department. "We think this is a good opportunity to really encourage people to step up, be protected, and protect their patients."
Vorhees said there are two main reasons for health care workers to be vaccinated. "People who work in hospitals are more likely to get influenza because people may be coming in because of their influenza," said Vorhees, "but they're also in a position if they get influenza themselves, they could transmit it to their patients who are in the hospital and in a position where influenza might be very dangerous for them."
Dr. Vorhees said that some places in Pennsylvania as well as in other states mandate that hospital workers are vaccinated but not in the Pittsburgh area.
"Some places it's been met with resistance, people didn't want to be mandated to get the vaccine," Vorhees said. "We think it's possible to work more positively with hospitals to get those [vaccination] rates up."
The campaign to inoculate hospital workers in Allegheny County begins next month and Vorhees said their goal is to have a 90% vaccination rate.