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Do you think it’s fair to fire someone who refuses to get a flu shot?

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Hospital Workers Fired for Refusing to Get a Flu Shot

Posted by Deborah Cruz on January 4, 2013 

flu shotEight hospital employees have lost their jobs after refusing to get the flu shot, which became mandatory for all staff this year.

Workers at IU Health Goshen Hospital in Indiana had the option to file for medical or religious exemptions -- but were then given the boot when they wouldn't get the vaccine.

The hospital says its new stricter rules are meant to protect patients with weaker immune systems, since the flu can be particularly dangerous and even deadly if those people catch it. While I appreciate that they're looking out for their patients' well-being, I have to wonder: what about the rights of their own employees?

I understand the flu has a high mortality rate in people who already have weakened immune systems and could quite literally kill patients. I even understand why the hospital is trying to force their employees to get the flu shot, since not being vaccinated seems irresponsible when you work directly with sick people.

But if this were any other field and employers were trying to make their staff get this or any other vaccine, it would be considered an infringement on their rights and personal beliefs.

These hospital workers deserve to get their jobs back. For one thing, it's opening the door to other employers to require staff to get shots or other medical procedures as a contingency for employment. And for another, vaccines are a personal choice and carry with them some potential for harm, so if someone doesn't want one, they should not be forced to get it.

There has to be an alternative to people who have dedicated their entire lives to the field of medicine being given a pink slip because they don’t want the flu shot. Maybe there should be a forced leave of absence without pay during flu season or a quarantine in which those employees are prohibited from working with patients with compromised immune systems. But it makes no sense that they were given the chance to opt out -- only to be fired. That seems like discrimination to me.

Do you think it’s fair to fire someone who refuses to get a flu shot?

by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Replies (21-30):
SuperWoman8
by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 12:45 AM

normally I'm very pro-choice on just about anything. but on this topic, I say the fired employees can just boo hoo their way through the unemployment line. Their rights are not the top priority here. the patient's well being is.

SarahlovesLiz
by Member on Jan. 6, 2013 at 12:58 AM
2 moms liked this

Hell, no.  It's not fair to the employee to be FORCED to have something that could potentially harm them.  If they don't want one, they don't have to have one.  As if the people in the hospital aren't already exposed to the flu and other illnesses just from being in the hospital as it is!  There has to be another way to keep these people from getting the flu without forcing people to get an unwanted injection.  This is ridiculous.

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jan. 6, 2013 at 1:02 AM

Yes, if it's in the terms of employment.

britni11
by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 1:22 AM
1 mom liked this
I use to work at a place where they made you feel bad for not getting the shot and everyone that got it wore a sticker on their badges to show they got it like they cared about their patients more or something...I felt discriminated against. I will also say that I didn't get the shot, nor did I get the flu. Three people that did get the shot ended up with the flu and were out of work a week. This is stupid and I wouldn't want to work for that hospital. I bet they woukd win if They sued, their rights were definitely violated.
janel09
by New Member on Jan. 6, 2013 at 1:57 AM

 I work in the medical field. As of December 1 all employees in the hospital system must have had thier flu shots. It's not only for our protection, but against the patient's protection who either refused the flu or not able to recieve the flu (like my 3 month old daughter). The only immunity to getting a flu shot is an allergy. The physician in charge told us today that there have already been 4 deaths from influenza. One of our nurses was home for a week with influenza. It's real. It can kill. As healthcare workers, it is our goal to maintain the health of the patient. So being a carrier of the flu will harm the patient, thus she needed to be fired as a reminder of the health risk this is.

carlajrn2013
by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 2:14 AM
1 mom liked this

I'm a nurse(LPN) and a nursing student also, and I don't think it's fair at all. We had this same issue come up at school right before we let out for Christmas break. One of the facilities that we do clinicals at is now requiring all of its student nurses and employees to get the flu shot. If you refused or couldn't prove that you are allergic to the vaccine you would have to wear a face mask the whole time you were in the hospital doing patient care. I normally get it every year anyway so it was not a problem for me to get it especially since the school was paying for it also. If I were a patient and I saw my nurse or other care provider coming in with a mask on I would be horrified and wondering what they possibly had that I could get. I feel the nurses would waste lots of time daily having to explain why they were having to wear a mask just because they refused to get a shot. I don't think it's right for any type of health care policies or procedures to be forced on employees just to keep their jobs. Its just not fair. And just because all of the employees get vacinnated its still not going to guarantee that the patients are being exposed to the virus as anyone who walks in off the street can be a carrier of the virus and bring it into the hospital. And even though I got the vaccine I still ended up with the flu unfortunately.

Liyoness
by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 2:21 AM
2 moms liked this

Why find another job? If you love what you do and are good at it, why should you have to find a new field of employment?

This is a slippery slope and people are so quick to jump to the conclusion that it should be forced for this industry.. Will it become forced on patients staying in a hospital, too?

Why don't people think when things like this occur? The flu is just not enough of a threat to put in this kind of enforcement. What is the real reason?

Quoting sweet-a-kins:

I never get a flu shot , neither do my kids or husband

But if it were a condition of my employment that was caring for sick people, I would comply or find another job if I didnt want too

Liyoness
by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 2:24 AM

What happens to the nurses who are home sick who did receive the shot?

Quoting janel09:

 I work in the medical field. As of December 1 all employees in the hospital system must have had thier flu shots. It's not only for our protection, but against the patient's protection who either refused the flu or not able to recieve the flu (like my 3 month old daughter). The only immunity to getting a flu shot is an allergy. The physician in charge told us today that there have already been 4 deaths from influenza. One of our nurses was home for a week with influenza. It's real. It can kill. As healthcare workers, it is our goal to maintain the health of the patient. So being a carrier of the flu will harm the patient, thus she needed to be fired as a reminder of the health risk this is.


thundersky
by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 3:16 AM

i think it is unfair. the flu shot has live strains of flu in it so those that take it become carriers of the flu. the flue shot also sheds so it is not really protecting any one. also it has the H1N1 in all flu shots which the H1N1 shot casued more hospitalization than the viris its self. i think it is wrong that they can try and force you to do something to your body you dont want done. 

lizzielouaf
by Gold Member on Jan. 6, 2013 at 5:24 AM
4 moms liked this

According to the CDC:

Flu Myth #3: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.

This is the flu myth most likely to drive experts bonkers. “There is simply no way that the flu vaccine can give you the flu,” says Hay. “It’s impossible.”

Why? For one, injected flu vaccines only contain dead virus, and a dead virus is, well, dead: it can’t infect you. There is one type of live virus flu vaccine, the nasal vaccine, FluMist. But in this case, the virus is specially engineered to remove the parts of the virus that make people sick.

Despite the scientific impossibility of getting the flu from the flu vaccines, this widespread flu myth won’t die. Experts suspect two reasons for its persistence.  One, people mistake the side effects of the vaccine for flu. While side effects to the vaccine these days tend to be a sore arm, in the past, side effects often felt like mild symptoms of the flu. Two, flu season coincides with a time of year when bugs causing colds and other respiratory illnesses are in the air.  Many people get the vaccine and then, within a few days, get sick with an unrelated cold virus. However, they blame the innocent flu vaccine, rather than their co-worker with a runny nose and cough.

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