“Patients in Kashmir hospitals are being put at risk as so many doctors, nurses and paramedical staff has not received swine flu vaccine,” said Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday in a communiqué.
“Medical staff imperils patients by snubbing flu shots” said DAK President and flu expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“Unvaccinated staff has the potential to transmit flu to patients who are vulnerable to flu-related complications and death,” he said.
Dr Nisar said during hospitalization, patients are 5-35 times more likely to acquire flu if exposed to infected healthcare workers.
“Patients entrust healthcare workers with their lives and clinicians should not be the ones to make them sick,” he added.
Calling for mandatory flu vaccination of medical staff, Dr Nisar said that would increase vaccination rates among medical personnel and provide safe environment in hospitals to patient care.
He said mandatory policies are being increasingly adopted by healthcare institutions and public health authorities and that has increased vaccine coverage.
In United States, compulsory vaccination increased coverage rates from 64% in 2007 to 98% in 2008 among healthcare workers.
Dr Nisar said there is a moral imperative for hospital staff to be immune and for healthcare institutions to ensure staff vaccination for patient safety.
He further said vaccine also protects healthcare workers themselves from getting sick and prevents disruption of healthcare delivery system.
“This year’s flu might be worse than last year, based on the south hemisphere’s recently ended flu season which was harsh and usually that indicates what is in store for us next,” said Dr Nisar.