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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 (41-50):
by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 8:17 AM

they tried to do this At the hospital i work at but backed down when alot of their Rn's protested. you can get the flue shot and still get the flue. i have a coworker that got the shot then got sick from another strain of flue she wasn't vacc against.If somone really wants to prpotect themselves against flu the very best thing is wash your hands and keep your hands away from your mouth. do not bite your nails. also during these winter months refrain from getting all up in peoples faces. if your are sick waer a mask. instruct your spouse and children to wash their hands and also refrain from putting their nails/hands in or near their mouth.

by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 8:23 AM

At a hospital I can understand them wanting you to get a flu shot because you're exposed to so many sick people, but it's still no guarantee you won't get the flu because they just guess what flu strains will be going around when they make the flu vaccine. I don't think it's fair to fire someone for refusing the flu shot.

by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Yes, nursing homes already do it.

by Member on Jan. 6, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Yep it's fair.

by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:18 AM
3 moms liked this
THIS! Those of us who've ever had kids hospitalized, especially in the immunocompromised units, appreciate this attempt to create a barrier of transmission. Thank you.

Quoting prenatalRN:

As an RN, I do believe it is fair. There is also an egg free version now for those with allergies. Like with any job if you don't agree with its requirements, you don't have to work there. 

As nurses and others in health care our main job is to promote and restore health. Mandating the flu shot is on par as requiring handwashing before and after entering a patients room and before patient contact. We do BEST practice to BEST protect those we care for. If you fail to follow best practice, of course you should lose your job.

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by Emerald Member on Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:24 AM
Unless your the owner/boss, you don't get to dictate the conditions of your employment

Quoting Liyoness:

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

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by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:31 AM

And what about the employees who got the shot? They could still get the flu!

No, I don't think it's fair.

by Member on Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:38 AM

no its not fair! Lots of people never get the flu shot and never get the flu. There are also people who get sick after getting this shot. And if it was never mandatory before why is it now?

I would understand if you are a now hire somewhere and you are told that it is mandatory but then refused it, yes than its a reason to let a person go. But those people worked there longer and it was never mandatory. It even says they could file the exemption form but all of them who did got fired.

I think people got to stand up for their right! Because whats next? Maybe people in retail have to get it as well in the futur because they come in contact with so many people? And so on and on.

by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:40 AM
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I think that it is very important to be aware of your sources and their modivations. A study by the government about the effect of vaccines is not a source I am comfortable with. 

There are X number of flu virus strains. Only Y number make it in the vaccine each year. This number is an educated guess at best! How many years ago was the swine flu? The swine flu is not worse or crazier than any other flu, but just was not in the shot that year. And what was the government's advice?! Run out and get your flu shot. Your non-effective flu shot. Great advice. 

I have never had the flu shot as an adult. I have also not had the flu as an adult. And I may have had the flu as a child, but that was when my parents were getting me the shot.

This country was founded by people trying to escape a controlling government. This country was founded on the belief that we all have personal rights and beliefs, that may not always go hand in hand with the beliefs of others. I am not sure that this hospital can legally do this to their emploeeys. If this condition had been in the paperwork when they were hired, then I agree that the employees had knowledge of it and so boo hoo. But I am not sure that was in their paperwork upon hire. 

Furthermore, as a previous poster stated, hand washing and face masks are more effective anyway. 

Quoting lizzielouaf:

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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by on Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:40 AM

 My thoughts as well.

Quoting sweet-a-kins:

Patients come first, this is a medical issue not a religious one.

they can CHOOSE to not work at that hospital

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