LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Getting a flu shot will be a requirement this year for all healthcare personnel in Los Angeles County.

County Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding issued an order Tuesday mandating that healthcare personnel in each licensed acute care hospital, skilled nursing facility, and intermediate care facility receive an annual vaccination against influenza or wear a protective mask.

KNX 1070’s Bill Polish reports Fielding’s order applies to all individuals working in these settings who have direct patient contact or work in patient areas.

The order excludes facilities in the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which are separate health jurisdictions.

“Hospitals have been required for some time by state law to provide vaccine, no requirement to, in fact, have people immunized or otherwise use a mask when in contact with patients, so that’s what’s different,” Fielding said.

Health care personnel are not only at risk for influenza, but can also transmit the virus to their coworkers and patients. Patients in healthcare facilities — most especially young children, pregnant women, elderly, and persons with chronic health conditions — are particularly vulnerable to infection and its subsequent complications, according to county officials.

An estimated 24,000 people die in the U.S. every year from influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The mandate from L.A. County follows similar measures adopted by Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento and several other California counties, and has been adopted by more than 30 Los Angeles area hospitals, including all county Department of Health Service facilities.

Flu season starts Nov. 1 and ends on March 31.

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