Experts Recommend Flu Shots for Healthcare Workers

The latest strain of influenza has been deemed "widespread" in California and some experts are strongly recommending that health officials get flu shots.

"When you're a public healthcare provider, whether a doctor or nurse, we should urge everyone to take the flu vaccine," said Dr. Peter Weiss, assistant clinical professor at UCLA.

Related: Questions and Answers About Flu Vaccine | Explore flu trends around the world

Nearly all of Weiss' staff have gotten flu shots, but he isn't sure hospitals should require them for workers, he said.

"Personally I think we need to instruct and educate people, and when you do that and you do it properly and you make a good argument, everyone gets the vaccine," Weiss said. "If you can't make an argument as to why it should be done, then why should people follow it?"

The vaccine is considered 62 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deborah Breetwor-Peters, a labor and delivery nurse at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said she knows the importance of getting vaccinated.

"For years and years and years, I didn't get the flu shot and every year, I got the flu," Breetwor-Peters said. "First year I didn't get the flu was the year I got the flu shot."

According to the latest data (PDF) from the California Department of Public Health, only about 60 percent of healthcare workers get the influenza vaccination. The national estimate is 63.5 percent, with a federal goal of 90 percent by 2020.

"Some people are allergic to eggs. You can't take it if you're allergic to eggs," Breetwor-Peters said. "Some people have different religious beliefs. Some people think they're going to get the flu either way, or it' going to lower their immunity, so they will get some kind of flu, but I think it's really important."

Nationally, flu activity has been high, while in California has seen a "moderate" amount of influenza-like illnesses, according to the LA County Department of Public Health.

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