Eight 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?
Image via GHinson/Flickr