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Jan 16, 2013

3 States Mandating Flu Shots for Hospital Employees

Choice should be Mandatory
Via: Khastv
Arkansas, Maine, Illinois. Those are just a few states with hospitals making it mandatory for their health care workers to get vaccinated. And some doctors who have refused to get their shot have lost their jobs. In Kearney, Good Samaritan employees must wear a mask if they opt out. Mary Lanning says employees can only refuse if they have an allergy, a history of neurological reactions or if they received the vaccine elsewhere.
 St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island has an open policy and they're looking at making flu vaccinations mandatory in the future. When you walk into the lobby at St. Francis Medical Center you'll find flu warning signs posted throughout, tissue boxes handy and sanitizing dispensers at every corner. "I think it is time for us to look at a mandatory policy," said St. Francis Medical Center Director of Quality and Risk Management Beth Bartlett. Bartlett says it's not mandatory their staff gets the flu vaccine and neither is wearing a mask if they are unvaccinated. "Our goal is to be at minimally 90 percent to get vaccinated and this year I think we were only at 83% which was disappointing," said Bartlett. As healthcare care providers, why wouldn't staff members run to get vaccinated?
 "A religious thing, if they think they have allergies, some people just don't like needles and they don't like to think about getting a shot, some people don't like to be told what they have to put into their bodies," said Bartlett. A common concern for some is getting sick from the vaccine. "You might have some minor symptoms when you get the vaccine but it's a lot less than if you don't get the vaccine and then end up getting exposed to the virus," Bartlett said. According to published reports, some workers at hospitals in Rhode Island and Illinois don't have a choice, it's mandatory and unvaccinated employees have been fired. Others have resigned citing issues of individual rights.
 "It's difficult sometimes to get everybody on board with that because you have to hold people accountable to what you decide in the end, but as health care providers I think it's important for us to put our patients first," said Bartlett. Flu-related hospitalizations across the state have dropped slightly. In the meantime, flu activity is still widespread. Last week, in northeastern Nebraska another death was reported, making it a total of 3 so far this season.
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