Hospitals and healthcare facilities should require all employees to get an annual flu shot, a group representing many of the nation’s largest employers emphasized again at a press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

An annual shot will reduce the risk of that unvaccinated workers pose to patients, other employees and families, according to the National Business Group on Health (NBGH).

NBGH represents more than 340 business groups and its members provide health insurance to about 55 million people in the United States, it said.

The organization first issued its position statement on flu shots in October. Wednesday, Helen Darling, NBGH president and CEO, was joined at the press conference by officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Consumer Reports and the American Hospital Association. They all called for greater efforts to immunize healthcare workers against the flu.

NBGH cited findings that only 63% of healthcare workers get flu vaccinations and that about 25% of them show evidence of having the flu.

The organization said the flu vaccination should be a condition of employment in hospitals except in cases where employees can demonstrate religious objections or they have physician documentation of medical contraindications.
NBGH also said employees who have not been vaccinated should either be reassigned to non-patient care areas or required to wear masks during flu season when caring for patients.

The Immunization Action Coalition says that 32 states now have at least one hospital with a required flu vaccination policy.