Ninety four out of the 98 hospitals in the US state of Washington have adopted new flu immunisation policies that require healthcare workers to either be immunised or use patient-protective measures.

Washington is the first US state in which nearly all hospitals have jointly implemented flu immunisation policies.

Some of the steps taken include the opening of immunisation clinics on every shift and providing vaccines free of charge.

Patient-protective measures for unvaccinated workers include assigning them to non-patient care, asking them to wear masks or sending them home during a flu outbreak.

John Fletcher, senior vice-president of Providence Health & Services in Washington / Montana said that even when healthcare workers feel fine, they could still transmit the virus to patients, their co-workers, and their families.

“A big step to stamping out influenza transmission in the hospital is to make sure our caregivers are vaccinated against it,” Fletcher added.