During the July 2019 Board of Health meeting the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health approved recommendations for required seasonal flu immunizations for health care workers in Ohio County.
The recommendations are for all health care facilities (hospitals, clinics, facilities, physician offices) in Ohio County.
A health care worker working in a health care facility in Ohio County shall receive an annual influenza immunization by November 1st (or prior to the beginning of the designated influenza season) of every year as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department.
A health care worker shall be immunized against influenza as part of a crucial step in the efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality of health care associated influenza infections and improve patient safety.
When vaccination is not possible for any reason, due to unavailability or medical contraindications of potential vaccine recipients, hospital and health care professionals shall use all available alternatives to avoid transmission to patients and co-workers including masks and adjustment of job responsibilities,
Physicians and medical/health centers that provide vaccinations should provide the person vaccinated with a documentation showing that they have been immunized against influenza.
Based on the recommendation of several national physician and hospital groups including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) for mandatory influenza vaccination for healthcare workers, the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health recommends that all health care facilities in Ohio County develop and implement a policy for the mandatory requirement that their healthcare workers receive an annual influenza vaccination.
A “Healthcare Worker” means a person who works in the health care facility, whether paid or unpaid, who has the potential for exposure to infectious materials, including body substances, contaminated medical supplies and equipment, contaminated environmental surfaces, or contaminated air. This includes, but is not limited to, all employees on payroll, all licensed independent practitioners affiliated with the hospital but not on payroll, students, trainees, volunteers and any other contract personnel.
A “Health care facility” means a publicly or privately owned facility, agency or entity that offers or provides health care services, whether a for-profit or nonprofit entity and whether or not licensed, or required to be licensed, in whole or in part, and includes, but is not limited to, hospitals; skilled nursing facilities; kidney disease treatment centers, including free-standing hemodialysis units; intermediate care facilities; ambulatory health care facilities; ambulatory surgical facilities; home health agencies; hospice agencies; rehabilitation facilities; health maintenance organizations; and community mental health and intellectual disability facilities. For purposes of this definition, “community mental health and intellectual disability facility” means a private facility which provides such comprehensive services and continuity of care as emergency, outpatient, partial hospitalization, inpatient or consultation and education for individuals with mental illness, intellectual disability or drug or alcohol addiction.
For more information on this recommendation or the seasonal flu vaccination program call the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department at (304) 234-3682.