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Health Team

WakeMed to require employees to get flu shot

Posted January 18, 2013

— Beginning next fall, employees of the WakeMed hospital system will be required to get a flu shot as a condition of employment. Employees and volunteers will have to either provide proof of vaccination or an approved exemption. 

Those who can't get the vaccine will be required to wear masks during patient care. 

The policy change comes on the heels of a season that has seen the flu reach epidemic proportions nationwide.

Nine North Carolina residents died of influenza last week in what is the deadliest week so far this season for the illness in the state, public health officials said Thursday. So far, 29 children and teens have died of the virus, more than a quarter of the annual average.

This year's season is earlier than normal and the dominant flu strain is one that tends to make people sicker. Flu usually doesn't blanket the country until late January or February, but it is already widespread in more than 40 states, including North Carolina. 

The government doesn't keep a running tally of adult deaths from the flu, but estimates that it kills about 24,000 people most years.

“By immunizing our health care workers, we are not only protecting them, but we are taking the necessary steps to protect our patients from influenza,” said Dr. Chris Ingram, medical director of WakeMed Infection Prevention and Occupational Health. 

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  • msnfnp Jan 21, 9:25 a.m.

    FYI, there IS thimerosal-free flu vaccine. You just have to ask for it.

  • dontgetmestarted Jan 18, 7:52 p.m.

    TV_D_SEAT...I stand somewhat corrected. I DO know of all these things, however, EVERYTHING we take down to simple pain relievers like Tylenol, etc has chemicals and possible side effects but the benefits outweigh the risks. That is the nature of medicine. Unless you never take anything whatsoever for anything you take that risk everytime. GBS from the flu shot it not a "common" occurance and the most common reactions are not what I call "real" harm as they are MUCH less serious than the flu itself.

  • TVs_Deceit Jan 18, 7:38 p.m.

    ..flu virus in the vaccine are inactivated with formaldehyde and preserved with Thimerosal, which is a mercury derivative.

    The most common reactions, which begin within 12 hours of vaccination and can last several days are: fever, fatigue, painful joints and headache.

    The most serious reaction that has been associated with flu vaccine is Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) which occurs most often within two to four weeks of vaccination. GBS is an immune mediated nerve disorder characterized by muscle weakness, unsteady gait, numbness, tingling, pain and sometimes paralysis of one or more limbs or the face. Recovery takes several months and can include residual disability. Less than 5 percent of GBS cases end in death.

    Brain and nerve disorders such as encephalopathy, optic neuritis, partial facial paralysis, and brachial plexus neuropathy as well as vasculitis have also been reported following the flu vaccine, although a definite causal relationship has no been established.

    bit.ly/kKyxYA

  • dontgetmestarted Jan 18, 6:56 p.m.

    TV_D_Seat...I'm not aware that the flu shot poses any real harm if you're not allergic to eggs or have any conditions that would contraindicate getting the shot. You should always be asked to fill out a questionnaire before getting it to avoid those issues. That's my point.

  • dontgetmestarted Jan 18, 6:52 p.m.

    TV_D_Seat...I don't quite understand how it can do any real harm if you have no allergies to any of its contents nor any pre-existing condition that would contraindicate it. I have never heard of any if there is. That's my point.

  • dontgetmestarted Jan 18, 6:49 p.m.

    heelsgirl05...LOL! Didn't catch that...good one.

  • TVs_Deceit Jan 18, 6:14 p.m.

    Well, if Religious Belief is an exemption, you all are welcome to join my Christ-centered Church. If you're already a member of one that you don't want to leave, I don't see any problem with being a member of both.

    Frankly, both sides of the issue can put forth reasonable arguments why they're right. But the fact of the matter is it's still a gamble whether it will do more harm than good.

    Forgo the injection, wear a mask, and everyone is happy.

  • heelsgirl05 Jan 18, 5:49 p.m.

    dontgetmestarted, the inpatient stay was a reference to Wakemed's recent run-in with medicare fraud where they billed outpatient procedures as inpatient ones so they could get more money.

  • dontgetmestarted Jan 18, 5:32 p.m.

    killing time...I agree!...True, you are essentially exposed to everyone in the ER regardless but you are in direct contact with your caregiver.

  • dontgetmestarted Jan 18, 5:30 p.m.

    Scubagirl, well said. As most anyone (especially adults) should know, we all have to do things we don't particularly want to from time to time but that's just life. You learn to suck it up and press onward. My son did just that when he realized he was getting the flu shot because mom said so. You know what...he realized it wasn't all that bad and never shed a tear. He's 8yrs old......

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