According to a recent VHA policy (VHA Directive 1192.01, Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Program for VHA Health Care Personnel,(https://www.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=8959), HPTs who cannot provide proof of flu vaccination will not be permitted to train in VA facilities.
This new policy has very limited religious or medical exceptions.
Training Directors/Program Directors (TD/PDs) will need to verify initial and ongoing VA appointment eligibility, including health and vaccination status, for all HPTs under their purview through the TQCVL process. Signed TQCVLs document the TD/PD’s intent to adhere to VA policy. However, the TQCVL is signed well before vaccination season. Therefore, continuous communication will be necessary with programs, affiliates and trainees to monitor flu vaccination status and compliance with this policy.
There is further clarification about the possibility of medical and religious exemptions that may need to be considered regarding the initial mandatory flu vaccination message for Health Professions Trainees (HPTs).
- POLICY: It is VHA policy that medical facilities will achieve a mandatory seasonal influenza vaccination program by requiring all HCP to receive annual seasonal influenza vaccination or obtain an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Compliance with this directive is a condition of employment. HCP in violation of this directive may face disciplinary action up to and including removal from federal service.
- Health Care Personnel (HCP). HCP are individuals who, during the influenza season, work in VHA locations or who come into contact with VA patients or other HCP as part of their duties. VHA locations include, but are not limited to, VA hospitals and associated clinics, community living centers (CLCs), community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs), domiciliary units, Vet centers and VA-leased medical facilities. HCP include all VA licensed and unlicensed, clinical and administrative, remote and onsite, paid and without compensation, full- and part-time employees, intermittent employees, fee basis employees, VA contractors, researchers, volunteers and health professions trainees (HPTs) who are expected to perform any or all of their work at these facilities. HPTs may be paid or unpaid and include residents, interns, fellows and students. HCP also includes VHA personnel providing home-based care to Veterans and drivers and other personnel whose duties put them in contact with patients outside VA medical facilities.
- Health Care Personnel (HCP). HCP are required to comply with this directive by:
- Receiving the annual seasonal influenza immunization or obtaining an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
- Submitting the Health Care Personnel Influenza Vaccination Form, VA Form 10-9050 (Appendix B) by November 30 of each year to Employee Occupational Health.
- Wearing a face mask as described in Appendix A of this directive when an exemption to the influenza vaccination has been granted.
Compliance with this directive is a condition of employment. HCP in violation of this directive may face disciplinary action up to and including removal from federal service.
Please ensure that your VA optometry student externs, residents and fellows have received the flu vaccination and/or been granted a medical or religious exemption by November 30, 2020.
For those HPTs granted an exemption, they must adhere to the mask wearing requirements delineated in Appendix A, VHA Directive 1192.01.