Why does Intermountain care about immunizations?
As a healthcare organization we believe that immunizations prevent diseases. Vaccinating against diseases such as polio and diphtheria has resulted in these becoming very rare. On the other hand, we have seen recent outbreaks in pertussis and measles – diseases that are preventable with vaccinations. We must keep immunizing until diseases are eliminated. Vaccinations don’t just protect us today. They protect future generations by eradicating the disease.
We also believe that our patients expect us to do all that we can to protect them, and they should be able to expect that as they are being treated for other conditions they will not contract potentially life-threatening illnesses from their healthcare providers.
Why do we require immunizations for employees/volunteers who don’t work in patient care areas?
In addition to protecting our patients, Intermountain wants to protect our employees, co-workers, our families and our communities from preventable diseases. Also, many employees frequently go into patient care facilities.
Why are vaccines mandatory?
Past Intermountain efforts did not achieve these desired rates and consequently, we made the vaccines mandatory.
To limit the spread of disease it’s important to have a large percentage of the population vaccinated. This indirectly protects unimmunized individuals, including those who can’t be vaccinated and those for whom vaccination was not successful. This is called herd immunity. For highly contagious diseases, vaccination rates may need to be as high as 80% - 95% (www. historyofvaccines.org). National and local experts are using 95% as the desired rate for influenza and Intermountain has adopted that standard.
Can I receive an exemption to the required vaccinations?
There is a process to apply for an exemption for required vaccinations. The process differs depending on whether you are an employee/volunteer or have a different status. Please contact the appropriate person listed below for additional information.
Employee Applicants: Your Recruiter
Volunteer Applicants: Facility Volunteer Director
Students: Kara Kamareth (801) 442-2324
Suppliers: Joanne Autenreib (801) 442-2909
Temporary Employees/Independent Contractors: Mary Hansen (801) 442-2115
Other: Terri Flint (801) 442-3509
Who pays for the immunizations?
All employees and volunteers can receive required immunizations free of charge from the Intermountain Employee Health representative in their facility. All others must pay for their immunizations.
Masking during flu season is an accommodation that Intermountain is making for employees/volunteers that receive an exemption. This accommodation protects our patients while allowing for legal exceptions to our policy.
Numerous national professional societies such as the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (ACIP) all agree that influenza vaccinations of healthcare workers is essential for patient safety. Additionally, Joint Commission and CMS are considering strengthening their recommendations for influenza vaccination practices. In April, 2011 the Utah Healthcare Associated Infections Governance Committee issued a recommendation for compulsory influenza vaccination programs for all Utah healthcare workers.
Are other healthcare systems doing this?
Check out this website to see a listing of healthcare systems that are requiring influenza vaccinations at immunize.org.
Where can I learn more about immunizations?
Your Employee Health nurse can provide you with information and personal consultation. Additionally, here are three gold standard websites: