UCSF has approved a policy requiring that all UCSF Medical Center employees and volunteers, regardless of work location, be vaccinated against the seasonal and H1N1 flu, or sign a statement declining vaccination.
In addition, all UCSF faculty, including volunteer clinical faculty; housestaff, students and others who work in patient care areas must be vaccinated or sign the statement to decline.
As part of this new policy, anyone who declines a flu vaccination must wear a protective mask, supplied by UCSF, while in patient care areas places where patients are seen, evaluated and treated as well as in lobbies and waiting rooms.
“The medical center is making every effort to protect employees from getting and spreading the flu and to protect our patients from getting the flu while in our care,” wrote Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center, and Josh Adler, MD, chief medical officer, in an email message sent on Sept. 25. “This new policy will help safeguard you and your family, your co-workers and our patients.”
UCSF Occupational Health Services (OHS) will be providing free, seasonal flu shots to members of the campus community who have a UCSF identification badge at many outreach clinics, from Monday, Oct 12 to Friday, Oct. 28. A schedule of these flu shot clinics can be found at the OHS website.
Following the UCSF outreach clinics, flu vaccinations will be available in OHS drop-in clinics and at Student Health Services. Last year, OHS provided more than 11,700 immunizations. This year, it is expected that the demand for seasonal influenza immunization will increase.
California law requires UCSF Medical Center to vaccinate faculty, staff, students and volunteers working in patient care locations or have them sign a written declination form. The declination form is available online.
The flu shot is a safe and effective vaccine that provides immunity for the duration of the flu season. Contrary to what some people may believe, the vaccine does not cause the flu and everyone is at risk for flu. In fact, influenza is the sixth leading cause of death in the US resulting in more than 36,000 deaths per year.
H1N1 Vaccinations Coming
OHS also plans to provide H1N1 vaccination to members of the UCSF community who show their ID badge. The San Francisco Department of Public Health anticipates delivery of H1N1 vaccine in late October or early November. Although the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices may change the recommended number of doses required to achieve immunization, UCSF is preparing to provide two H1N1 vaccinations given at least three weeks apart, according to Amy Nichols, RN, director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control at UCSF Medical Center. H1N1 vaccinations will be available as an injection or intranasal spray.
Initially, the H1N1 vaccination supply is likely to be limited, but deliveries of additional vaccine are expected weekly through the end of this year. Sufficient supply of H1N1 vaccine is expected over the course of the flu season. More information about H1N1 vaccination will be announced through UCSF Today and other UCSF communication channels.
OHS and the Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control have prepared educational information about influenza, the vaccination program for health care providers, healthy habits, and home care instructions, which are available at the OHS website and the infection control website.
In addition, an OHS flu telephone hotline has been established to provide updated information about the flu. The UCSF community can call the flu hotline number at 415/885-7580 and press option #8 for current information about the flu shot program and other flu guidance.
Questions about influenza may be sent via email to Occupational Health Services.
Below is the entire message from Laret and Adler:
September 25, 2009
To prepare for a potentially severe flu season, UCSF Medical Center and its Executive Medical Board are taking a proactive, comprehensive approach to protect our patients and employees. We have approved a policy requiring that all UCSF Medical Center employees and volunteers, regardless of work location, be vaccinated against the seasonal and H1N1 flu, or sign a statement declining vaccination. In addition, all UCSF faculty, including volunteer clinical faculty; housestaff; students and others who work in patient care areas must be vaccinated or sign the statement to decline.
As part of this new policy, anyone who declines a flu vaccination must wear a protective mask, supplied by UCSF, while in patient care areas areas where patients are seen, evaluated and treated as well as in lobbies and waiting rooms.
The new policy is available on the medical center Intranet [PDF].
The medical center is making every effort to protect employees from getting and spreading the flu and to protect our patients from getting the flu while in our care. This new policy will help safeguard you and your family, your co-workers and our patients.
More information will be provided regarding this new requirement to wear a mask if you’re not vaccinated and how the requirement will be enforced. In the meantime, please send any questions you have regarding flu shots and the new mask policy to [email protected].
Free, seasonal flu shots will be administered at UCSF clinics, starting on Monday, Oct 12. A schedule of these flu shot clinics can be found here.
If you’d like a flu shot before Oct. 12, call Occupational Health at Mount Zion at 885-7580 to make an appointment. If you receive a flu shot at a location other than UCSF, please fax proof to Occupational Health at 771-4472 or send documentation via campus mail to Box 1661.
H1N1 flu vaccine is expected to arrive in late October or early November and we will distribute information about that vaccine as soon as it is available.
Please remember that hand hygiene is critical to controlling the spread of flu and other infectious diseases. Always wash your hands with soap and water or with a hand sanitizer before and after you see a patient or go into a patient room.
The situation with H1N1 influenza remains fluid and it’s not yet clear how widespread the virus will become this winter. We will provide frequent updates and reminders throughout the flu season.
Mark R. Laret
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Medical Officer