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Push underway for heathcare worker vaccinations

Posted: 5:40 PM, Sep 29, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-29 17:40:02-04
One of the first possible flu outbreaks in Hillsborough county this month, sickening 26 residents and eight workers at a nursing home.  
 
In fact, nationwide, only about 70 percent of all healthcare workers get the flu vaccine.  It's all why a local hospital is taking steps to buck the trend.
 
Sharon fore is one of  the thousands of Tampa General Hospital employees getting a flu shot.  Even though she no longer has direct contact with patients, Fore still thinks it's important to get vaccinated.
 
"As someone who's had the flu in the past, it is not fun.  Anything I can do to minimize getting the flu or lessening the effects of it, I'm thrilled with it," said Fore, a nurse recruiter at Tampa General.
 
Tampa General encourages all nine-thousand of its employees, from office workers to doctors and nurses, even hospital volunteers, to get the flu shot.  
 
Those who get vaccinated, get a sticker on their ID badge to prove it, along with a discount on their insurance premiums.  Employees who opt out have to wear a surgical mask while they work.
 
"We make it easy for them to come through all of our stations and quickly get the flu shot without disrupting their day here at work," said Nancy Epps, Tampa General Hospital employee health clinician.
 
The result is that 93 percent of TGH workers here are protected against the flu, which also helps every patient.
 
"We try to vaccinate all our employees so we're not transmitting the flu to them.  They're already sick to be here to begin with, so we don't want to make them sicker," said Epps.
 
The hospital also hopes outside of its doors, everyone else takes a few seconds to get the shot, too, helping save lives and limit any flu outbreaks.
 
In Florida, the state department of health doesn't track flu shot policies for healthcare workers, or the number of workers that get vaccinated.  The federal government started tracking some of that information, but it is not widely published.