Mandatory Flu Shot Or You're Fired

Employers seek to implement mandatory flu vaccines.

Everyone knows the flu shot has a serious purpose. After all, it's a safeguard against a condition that kills 36,000 people a year, according to the John Hopkins School of Medicine. But for the workers of one Ohio health center, the risks of skipping out on the vaccine extended beyond increased risk of catching the flu -- they got fired.

TriHealth, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based health center fired 150 of its workers the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for not complying with a mandate that every member of the 10,800-person staff get the vaccine, which was being offered for free on-site. The workers had been given a month to comply with the mandate before Nov. 16, according to local Ohio news outlet, WLWT.

A TriHealth spokesman did add that all the workers who skipped the vaccine can appeal to be reinstated after getting the shot. Whatever their motivation, be it simple laziness or a philosophical or religious opposition to getting the vaccine, the workers are facing an increasingly common workplace policy. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws requiring health workers to get vaccinated or some form of treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control. (In most jurisdictions, workers are allowed to seek an exemption, however, whether for religious or for medical reasons, such as an allergy.)

More: 10 Tips to Avoid the Flu at Work


"It probably started when the swine flu [H1N1 virus] hit," in 2009, said Donna Ballman, AOL Jobs' employment law expert. "Workplaces became more aware," and have little obstacle in enforcing mandatory vaccines. "Private employees have no civil liberties. The Constitution protects you from government intrusion [in your private life]. But not from your employer."

It's the same reason why employers are allowed to read your emails, for instance, added Ballman, author of the book, Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards. And so workers interested in fighting against such requirements, or other similar workplace practices, are forced to do so through collective bargaining when setting the terms of employment, she said.

While no institution tracks the exact number of workplaces that require flu vaccines, the practice has been expanded to other Ohio health centers besides TriHealth, as well as to Colorado.

Not surprisingly, the CDC reports that the mandates dramatically increase the vaccination rate. U.S. hospitals that require flu shots reported a vaccination rate of 95.2 percent between 2011-12 season, compared with 68.2 percent at hospitals where they were not mandated, the CDC said.

Regardless, the practice rubs some labor groups the wrong way. Citing the "absence [of] a basic philosophic or personal exemption for healthcare workers," the Service Employees International Union released a statement opposing such workplace mandates. The SEIU, and its 1 million members, was joined in the statement by other unions, such as the AFL-CIO and National Nurses United. Critics also point to a recent study published in The Lancet, which found that the flu vaccine is 59 percent effective.

What do you think? Should employers be allowed to enforce a flu vaccine requirement? Share your comments below.

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284 Comments

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gala04

OK so they force you to get the flu shot.Now what if you get sick are they gonna take care of the medical bills? I think we all know the answer to that one No!!

January 27 2014 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hallrich34

HOGWASH!! AMERICAN WORKERS ARE BEING SCAMMED BY BOTH THE GOVERNMENT AND EMPLOYERS! THERE IS NO, REPEAT, N O, SOLID EVIDENCE OF THE FLU DEATHS. ONLY HEARSAY AND FANTACY WORKED UP BY RESEARCHERS (DOCTORS) FOR GUESS WHAT? -- $$$$$$$$$$$

January 27 2014 at 4:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
bmb1018

NO FLU SHOT! HEll no!!! I do not want to be forced to get something invasive against my will. You give in to that, who knows what else they will make your do. Alot of people are giving in b.c they don't want to wear a mask. Duh people, Wake the F-up. Mercury and thermisal is very toxic and who the hell knows what they are putting in those shots. No thank you! I am a RN and will not b held to thos standards to being forced to get one. So they say if we get the flu shot it's likely we won't spread it to others. So they make you get it, So to play devils advocate, what about those patients that come in and don't have it, aren't they detrimental toward our health? hmmm It makes no sense! Dumb.

January 27 2014 at 1:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
David Debruler

this is a violation of human rights if we are elergic to the vaccine we shouldn't be fired

January 05 2013 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
no flu shot

There is no evidence that 36,000 a year die from the flu. A search of the governments own mortality statistics show approximately 3,000 a year die from the flu. Full disclosure, I spent 24 days in the hospital, 7 years ago, due to a flu shot.

January 01 2013 at 6:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert Erb

Requiring that I be injected with a substance that will not protect me or my patients and could cause me a lifeatime of debilitating illness, in exchange for employmeant needs to be challenged in a Court of Law. Also we need to get a House Bill introduced and pass, like Michigan HB# 5605!! This bill would repeal health care facility and agency workers from having mandatory fly shots! People need to BOYCOTT these hospitals!!

December 14 2012 at 2:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bina

I so disagree I work for the largest hospital of new england I am a medical secretary I have no patient contact however I am obligated to wear a mask at all times 17 hour shifts until march 1 the mask makes my skin break out and peel its so hard to even breeze with it on what happened to human rights and religious beliefs I am so glad that our union fighting in court over this crap the way I see it and 300 other co - workers taht refused almost every 90 % of patients admitted to the hospital has a different strain of flu the kind that no vaccine protects you from.Also what about the visitors the have every obligation ove rthe staff to wear the damn masks where I work the visitor hang aorund 10-12 hours a day sometimes overnight becaus ethe type of patients wr have very ill however they do not wear the masks so they are probably spreading more crap to patients than the staff would ever.Only in freaking America the **** would fly

December 10 2012 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bina

HI in my case I work as a medical secretary on icu for 10 years at the largest hospital in new england no patient contact and the hospital does not except a waiver any religious believe,medical.I refused and now I have wear very irritating mask at all times 17 hour shifts unbelievable until march 1 and the management also told us by the next year it will be mandatory

December 10 2012 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bina

Hell I work for the largest hospital in new england I refuse to get a flu shot and now I have to suffer wearing a mask which is so horrible on my skin it gets dry and break out I work 17 hour shifts 3 days a week if they manager catch anyone without it you get a fine each time of $100.00 and you can be suspended witout a pay.The management walks around scanning employees badges to see if you a shot or not,its unbelievable.

December 10 2012 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DrTheresa Ramsey

It is criminal for employers to get involved in personal health care decisions. Not only are these types of immunizations less than 75% effective, they can be harmful to individuals. The risk/benefit ratio should be an individual choice. Look at the potential risks below. Mandates on vaccines in large companies is like treating people like cows – the type of cow you don't want to eat or drink its milk.
* Allergic response
* Fever
* Guillain-Barre syndrome
* Myalgia (muscle pain)
* Malaise (fatigue)
* Soreness at injection site
* Systemic vasculitis
~ Dr. Theresa Ramsey, drramsey.com

November 30 2012 at 3:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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