You and I may be able to opt out of flu shots, but should doctors and nurses have the same right? No, according to some hospitals who insist that all employees get vaccinated. And for those for those who refuse? Well, some of them are actually getting fired.
With the worst flu season we’ve seen in decades, including the deaths of at least 20 children, it makes sense that the very people who are supposed to protect and help heal those who get infected–nurses and doctors–also protect themselves. After all, hospitals are notorious for spreading germs and infections. And while most hospital employees comply, some believe they have the right to refuse a flu shot–and not be reprimanded or fired for their choice.
According to Today.com, in the past two months at least 15 nurses and other hospital staffers in four states have been fired for refusing a flu shot. In addition, some employees have resigned over this. Others, like 1,000 workers in Rhode Island, have signed a petition against the mandate to get flu shot, and their labor union has filed a lawsuit opposing this regulation. To them, it’s their right to refuse.
From allergies, to religious reasons to skepticism over the effectiveness of a flu shot, some hospital workers are claiming that they shouldn’t be forced to get one. After all, the CDC says the flu shot is only likely to reduce your chances of getting sick by 62%. That’s a lot of people who will get vaccinated and still be at risk. In addition, the flu shot doesn’t protect against all strains of the illness, and it can lead to fever, aches and pains in those who get it.
“Where does it say that I am no longer a patient if I’m a nurse,” explained Carrie Calhoun to Today.com. Calhoun is a longtime critical care nurse in Chicago who was actually fired last month for refusing to get a flu shot.
Others disagree. According to some studies, patients in nursing homes have a lower death rate from the flu if employees are vaccinated.
Tell us what you think. Should hospital staff be required to get the flu shot?