I learned a few weeks ago that medical staff at some hospitals are being required to get flu vaccinations. On one level this makes absolute perfect sense to me... hospital workers come in contact with thousands of people each day. Doesn't getting the vaccine prevent the hospital workers from potentially contaminating all of the people they come into contact with each day? Won't having the vaccine protect the hospital workers from the hundreds of people who drag themselves to the ER with the flu?
We require children to get shots before they enter school - for their protection and for the protection of others... isn't this the same principal? What if you need emergency care at the local hospital and the hospital is shut down because most of the doctors, nurses, and technicians are home recovering from the flu? Some hospitals are even changing their visitor policies, preventing children under 18 from being in the hospital unless they are a patient. Have we gone too far?
So I began to think about our field of early childhood... should child care providers be required to get flu vaccinations? What about those caregivers who specifically work with infants younger than six months? These infants, who are too young to get a flu vaccination, are at great risk if an unimmunized caregiver exposes him or her to the flu virus.
I'd like to know what you think: Should childcare employees be required to get the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines? If so, who should pay for the vaccine - the employee or the employer?
Here are some recent news stories about Child Care environments and the Flu:
- H1N1 flu puts child-care centers on defense in Great Falls
- Daycares Feel Swine Flu Impact
- Update: Mothers line up for H1N1 vaccinations at the Health Department
- U.S. children's H1N1 flu deaths shoot up
- CDC: Seasonal Flu Information for Schools & Childcare Providers
- CDC Guidance on Helping Child Care and Early Childhood Programs Respond to Influenza during the 2009-2010 Influenza Season
- Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Child Care and Early Childhood Programs
- Elmo Public Service Announcements