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UTAH COUNTY -- The Utah County Health Department has new mandatory immunization policies for employees who work around pregnant women and young children.
Over a year ago, the department had a scare. An immunization nurse found out she was exposed to chicken pox, and developed a small rash. The nurse worked around newborn babies, and fears quickly spread she might have infected a large number of infants.
The nurse turned out not to have chicken pox, but the department decided it was time to take steps to protect newborn babies from exposure to infectious illnesses.
Dr. Joseph Miner, the director for the Utah County Health Department, tells KSL Newsradio they have now revised their immunization requirements for employees who work with newborns and pregnant women in both their clinics and in schools.
"Should we be the source of an infection for a pregnant women that would be bad too because illness during pregnancy are pretty high risk," said Miner
This means those employees will continue to be immunized against measles, mumps and rubella. They will also be given TB skin tests and will be encouraged to be immunized against hepatitis B.
The new requirements also say employees must be immunized against whooping cough as well as have either had the chicken pox, or had the chicken pox vaccine. They will also be required to have the yearly flu shot, as well as the upcoming swine flu vaccine.
"We see many, many newborn infants who are just beginning their immunizations at two, four, and six months of age. We don't want to have any risk of exposing those children at the health department," said Miner.
He says so far he hasn't been made aware of anyone on the staff who refuses to receive these immunizations. He says if there's a rare medical reason someone can't be immunized, that employee will likely be reassigned to another area of the health department where they won't be working with pregnant women and young children.
Miner says they are particularly concerned about influenza as more evidence has come out showing the high risk of pregnant women who contract the swine flu.