The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all healthcare professionals (HCP) get vaccinated annually against influenza (flu). Each year in the US, on average, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from flu-related complications. Anyone can get very sick from the flu, including people who are otherwise healthy. You can get the flu from patients and coworkers who are sick. If you get the flu, you can spread it to others even if you don’t feel sick. By getting vaccinated, you help protect yourself, your family, and your patients.
In California, both Cal/OSHA regulation Section 5199 and California Health and Safety Code Section 1288.7 require employers at nonexempt healthcare facilities to make the flu shot available annually to employees. Because dental professionals do not treat patients for symptoms caused by the flu and do not perform any procedures that the CDC considers “cough-inducing”, dental offices are conditionally-exempt from the flu shot requirements. However, even though flu shots are not required, they are strongly recommended for all dental professionals.
There are no federal or state requirements that compel HCP to accept any vaccines. However, some California local health jurisdictions have mandated that HCP working in facilities in their jurisdictions receive the influenza vaccine, unless they have a medical contraindication. HCP without a medical exemption who decline to receive a seasonal flu shot may be required to wear a surgical mask while at work during influenza season. Refer to your local public health department for specific information on local flu vaccine mandates.
Since 1992, OSHA Review, Inc. has provided dental professionals with comprehensive programs to support regulatory compliance and infection control. We are a registered continuing education provider in the state of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and OSHA training.