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Hospital Workers Fired for Refusing to Get a Flu Shot

by Deborah Cruz on January 4, 2013 at 5:03 PM

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?


Image via GHinson/Flickr

Filed Under: cold & flu, doctors, medicine, swine flu


  • dirti...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    absolutely not. those employees have the personal choice of vaccination - it should NOT be forced on them. if they do not agree to the shot for whatever reasons, then see about transferring them to another department or where there are less susceptible patients. 


  • lulou


    January 4, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    I have no problem with this.  They applied for exemptions and didnt meet the criteria. 

    Plus we sit here and complain about health costs, then you want to start moving people around to other jobs where they may not be needed or qualified.  Or $ to bring in temp staff, train them, etc.  Thats not cost effective.

  • WCURi...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM
    If you want to work in the medical field, don't complain when you have to get vaccinated. When you work in the medical field, you are there for the benefit of the patient and you coming to work with the flu doesn't benefit the patients. Don't like it, find another job.
  • bills...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:39 PM
    Their body their choice. Isn't that what you scream all the time? Hypocrites.
  • silve...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Its not their lives at stake, it is the defenseless who get the brunt of it. vaccinating yourself could mean that you dont give a newborn the flu which is deadly. when you work in the medical field you lose all personal wants. working as a nurse or a doctor or even a janitor means you scafice for others

  • Rhond...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:47 PM
    So what if they're allergic to eggs or have other risk factors? You can't tell someone they have the choice between being employed or risking death. What if they're pregnant? You can't tell a pregnant woman that she has to risk her child's life to keep her job.
  • WCURi...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:51 PM
    Amen silverdawn! These people weren't forced to work at that hospital, they chose too! If they didn't want to get vaccinated, they shouldn't have chosen to work there.
    If you're at the hospital with a depressed immune system, do you really want a nurse or doctor helping you that has the flu? When you're sick and go to them for help, you're not going to be thinking about it being their body and they can do what they want. If you or a loved one died because a nurse or doctor at the hospital gave them the flu, you'd be singing a different tune!
  • schlis


    January 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM
    I think it's just fine. They have every right not to be vaccinated, they just need to find someplace else to work where they won't be deadly to such vulnerable people.
  • belon...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    so folks it's only "YOUR BODY" when you are commiting murder but not if it could be harmful to YOU. How tollerant of you.banging head into wall

  • WCURi...


    January 4, 2013 at 5:57 PM
    These employees were given the option to file for an exemption. If they did, they didn't meet it. If you're religious preference prevents you from using modern medicine to prevent disease and death, how can your religion allow you to work somewhere that uses it all the time. Kinda seems like a conflict of interest to me!
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