Online Program

Immunizations: Should they be required for public health staff?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Teresa Garrett, MS, RN, Division of Disease Control & Prevention, Utah Dept of Health, Salt Lake City, UT
Nan Streeter, RN, MPH, Maternal Child Health, Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, UT
Immunizations are important for all, but should the public health workforce be required to be fully immunized, including influenza and TDap vaccines? Not all staff working in a public health department may be fully immunized, yet many may routinely come into contact with young children who aren't yet fully protected or individuals who are immuno-compromised. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is developing a policy that would require all employees to be up to date on their immunizations, including annual influenza vaccine, to protect young children and individuals who are immuno-compromised. The policy development was initiated when a local health department (LHD) would not allow a UDOH staff member to visit a clinic without having a current influenza shot. The LHD had a policy, like many health care systems, requiring staff, or consultants, working with young children to be up to date on immunizations. Other local agencies and health care organizations had similar policies where UDOH staff regularly provide technical assistance and consultation. The policy has three key sections. First, all employees in contact with young children or immune-compromised individuals are to be fully immunized following the ACIP recommendations for adult vaccines. Second, other UDOH employees are encouraging to be current on immunizations. Finally, employees who are required by policy to be fully immunized may request a “waiver” of this requirement. If granted, the employee will need to wear a protective mask whenever around children or individuals who are immuno-compromised. This presentation will include a description of the process for policy development and implementation to protect young children and immune-compromised individuals from exposure to agency staff who are not fully immunized. Additionally, results from an employee survey about attitudes, beliefs and willingness to adhere to ACIP recommendations will be shared.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the policy development process for immunizing state public health staff Explain results of two immunization campaigns Evaluate implications of workforce immunization issues

Keyword(s): Policy/Policy Development, Immunizations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the Division of Disease Control and Prevention at the Utah Dept of Health. I am responsible for all epidemiology, immunization, and chronic disease prevention and control efforts at the Dept.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.