Source: Jamestown Press (RI)
New regulations in Rhode Island require flu vaccinations for all workers, students, trainees and volunteers who routinely have direct patient contact in a healthcare setting. “[The department] listened closely to all stakeholders and used that feedback to craft amendments that addressed the concerns of healthcare workers and volunteers, while protecting patients from the threat of influenza,” said Michael Fine, director of the state health department. Individuals can receive a medical exemption if necessary; the exemption, signed by a healthcare professional, must be renewed annually and submitted by December 15 every year. Individuals with non-medical reasons for refusing immunization must submit a form stating their refusal to be vaccinated against influenza; the form also notes their understanding that they must wear a surgical face mask during direct patient contact during any period in which the flu is declared widespread. The new rules do not include patient family members or friends who may visit or assist in the care of that patient in a healthcare setting.