The Problem: Vaccine coverage for vaccine preventable disease is an essential public health goal. Vaccination against specific diseases is particularly important for high risk populations, which may include individuals of a certain age (e.g., greater than 68 years for Pneumococcal Polysaccharide) or with specified medical conditions (e.g., HIV/AIDS for influenza). CDC: General Recommendations on Immunization.
The Law: Laws and policies require vaccination (subject to enumerated exceptions) as a condition of certain jobs. In some states, state law or hospital policies require hospital staff to be vaccinated against influenza. In Rhode Island, for example, health care workers with direct patient contact must be vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella. RI Code R. 14-090-007. Illinois requires rubella vaccinations for nursery workers. Ill. Admin. Code tit. 77, § 250.1820.
The Evidence: In a systematic review, a Community Guide expert panel attempted to systematically review the evidence concerning the impact of requiring vaccinations outright or as a condition of specified activities such as employment as a healthcare worker. Ndaiye SM, Hopkins DP, Shefer AM, et al. Interventions to improve influenza, pneumococcal polysaccharide, and hepatitis B vaccination coverage among high-risk adults: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med 2005;28(5S):248-79. The reviewers were unable to locate any studies that measured the impact of these laws in the U.S. As a result, the reviewers concluded there is insufficient evidence to currently evaluate the effectiveness of these laws and policies as public health measures aimed at protecting vulnerable populations against specific diseases.
The Bottom Line: In the judgment of a Community Guide expert panel, there is insufficient evidence to assess the effectiveness of requiring vaccinations as a condition for specified jobs as a means of reducing incidence of specific diseases among particularly vulnerable populations.
Additional Information:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled and provided online access to state laws requiring or encouraging vaccination of health care workers.
Additional Resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention