WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center will require that all faculty, staff, students, post-doctoral trainees and volunteers within the Medical Center and its subsidiaries be vaccinated for influenza, as part of a new policy that was announced today. The new policy applies both to seasonal and H1N1 influenza (“swine” flu) vaccines.
“It is the policy and the deep commitment of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to protect our patients, employees, students, trainees, volunteers and the community as a whole from influenza infection,” said John McConnell, M.D., Wake Forest Baptist’s CEO. “Flu vaccination is essential to protect the health and safety of all and is a critical tool that will help us meet the significant challenges of seasonal and H1N1 influenza that lie ahead.”
The Medical Center provides flu vaccines free of charge to its community of employees, trainees, volunteers and students, and seasonal flu vaccinations begin today. The first deliveries of limited quantities of H1N1 vaccine are expected to arrive by early October, followed by additional quantities over a period of several months. Criteria will be established for the order in which individuals receive the H1N1 vaccine with priority given to those who provide direct, hands-on patient care or have a high risk of exposure to patients with the flu.
Exemptions from the new policy will be considered only for medical or religious reasons. People who receive exemptions will be required to wear surgical or isolation masks in all patient care areas during the influenza season. People who have had documented cases of H1N1 since Aug. 1 will not be required to have that vaccination.
Wake Forest Baptist has established internal H1N1 and seasonal flu sites online to provide faculty and employees with the latest information and clinical guidance. For the general public, a special H1N1 site is available through the Medical Center’s external home page, www.wfubmc.edu.
“We are in the second wave of pandemic flu that our experts have been watching closely. Planning for the challenges of a potentially much greater emergent demand on our resources has been ongoing for many months and continues,” said Thomas Sibert, M.D., Wake Forest Baptist’s chief medical officer. “We feel strongly that Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center will be in the forefront of preparations should our community need us to respond to extraordinary needs.”
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