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Fourteen people could lose their jobs Monday for refusing to get flu shots.
Frederick Memorial Healthcare System decided to require flu vaccinations by Nov. 2 because the Maryland Hospital Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it, according to Barbara Christoff, employee health manager at the company, which operates Frederick Memorial Hospital. Workers were notified of the requirement over the summer. A two-week grace period for employees to get their free vaccinations ends today.
The company decided to have everyone comply, including people who do not have regular contact with patients, because the vaccinations protect co-workers, Christoff said. Also, office staff may sometimes come in contact with patients. "It's protecting the patient, yourself and your family," she said. Physicians, contractors and volunteers must also comply with the mandate, she said. Documented exceptions to the hospital's mandate for its roughly 2,800 employees include reasons related to health or religion, Christoff said. Of the 52 exemptions, all but one or two cited health reasons. Exempted employees must wear an isolation mask when they come within 6 feet of a patient during flu season, Christoff said. "We were very strict with it," she said.
Of the 14 workers who had refused to comply as of Thursday, several are in emergency relief positions and work one or two days a month, she said. They have been unable to work during the two-week grace period.
EAccording to the CDC, recent studies suggest influenza vaccinations benefit public health, particularly when the three viruses chosen each year for the vaccine match those spreading in the community. Effectiveness, however, can range widely with factors that include age and health, as well as the similarity of the vaccine viruses and those people are contracting.
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