Hospitals axing nurses refusing flu shots

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 By

Vaccination

A growing number of hospitals are mandating employees get flu shots which is resulting in a number of people getting fired for refusing flu shots. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Eight employees, including at least three long-time nurses, were recently fired from an Indiana hospital for refusing flu shots. It’s an extremely odd occurrence and most certainly what’s called a sticky wicket, but flu season has arrived early and it’s said this year’s flu is pretty nasty.

Nurses refusing flu shots terminated for vaccination opt-out

Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital, in, obviously, Goshen, Ind., according to ABC news, has fired eight employees, at least three of whom were career nurses. They hadn’t done anything wrong in caring for patients but rather had taken a stand in refusing flu shots.

The hospital had declared mandatory flu shots for all staff, requiring that everyone who worked in the hospital receive an influenza vaccination. IU Health is in fact a large hospital network, with 26,000 employees, 95 percent of whom complied. Of those remaining 1,300 who didn’t comply, 8 were fired.

At least two applied for several different types of exemptions, including religious exemptions. Those were denied and four of the fired staff, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, have retained an attorney, ostensibly to sue the hospital for religious discrimination.

Mandate for flu shots

Though the nurses in question opted for refusing flu shots, IU Health, according to ABC, was following the advice of the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and also the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. IU Health isn’t alone, either.

The Advisory Board Company, a research and consultancy group specializing in the health care industry, reports 19 of the 29 acute care centers in Connecticut had implemented mandatory flu shots, as have a number of hospitals in Ohio, according to AOL. One such hospital, TriHealth, fired 150 employees recently for refusing flu shots, which had been offered free of charge, on-site, for a month – almost like free cash for one’s immune system.

Mandates boost participation

Flu season in the past few years have been getting a bit nastier. AOL quotes one hospital worker as saying it became more prevalent after the 2009 Swine Flu panic. This year’s flu season, according to ABC, began early and has been pretty nasty. More than 15,000 cases have been reported, including 16 pediatric fatalities.

It would seem a little odd, making people do something that is, for the most part, in their best interest and also that of their patients, or fire them. However, one thing that’s known is that influenza is contagious even if symptoms aren’t presenting yet and another is that mandatory vaccinations, at least at hospitals, get results.

The CDC found in a study, according to AOL, that hospitals with mandatory flu shots achieved about a 95 percent vaccination rate — right in line with the number that did at IU Health. Non-mandatory flu shot hospitals reached a vaccination rate of 68.2 percent.

Sources

ABC

San Francisco Chronicle

AOL

Advisory Board Company: http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2012/12/06/Hospitals-fire-staff-for-failing-to-get-mandatory-flu-shots

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