By Bay City News Service:
Health care workers in Contra Costa County will have to "practice
what we preach" beginning this flu season, county health officials said
Dr. William Walker, health officer for Contra Costa County, has
mandated that all health care workers in the county receive the annual flu
vaccination or wear a mask while working.
"As health care providers, we need to practice what we preach,"
Walker said in a release. "We always urge the public to get their flu shots
every year and for good reason. If doctors and nurses aren't bothering to get
immunized, we're not only sending a contradictory message to the public,
we're endangering our patients."
Walker continued to say that patient safety was at stake and the
vaccination rates of health care workers were too low.
According to the California Department of Public Health, the
employee vaccination rates in Contra Costa County range between 44 to 72
percent in 2010-11.
The flu is contagious up to one day prior to symptoms appearing
and can be especially dangerous to young children, the elderly, pregnant
women, and those with chronic conditions, according to Walker.
The requirement will go into effect during the coming flu season
from Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 and will continue in future flu seasons, officials
Contra Costa County's announcement of this follows similar
mandates in several counties in California, including San Francisco, Santa
Clara, and Sacramento counties.