States mandating flu vaccine

UPDATE: Office workers who refused flu shot suspended without pay "This is insane," said Watson, 36, a Willingboro resident who says she desperately needs her job to support her four children.

"It doesn't make sense because they're requiring the staff to wear a mask if we don't get the vaccine, but we have vendors coming in all the time, and they're not required to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination," she said.

What differentiates Duncan, Watson and Mercurius from most of those fired, however, is that they're not doctors or nurses, and they don't work in a hospital.

They spend their days in a corporate office in suburban Burlington Township, crunching numbers or dealing with billing issues.

The women say they are deeply opposed to receiving a flu shot for a variety of reasons, and they contend it is ostracizing, embarrassing and an invasion of privacy to force them to wear surgical masks in a business setting.

Lutheran Social Ministries said it instituted the mandatory flu shot policy this year as a safeguard for its clients.

Although these types of policies are still rare in other fields, legal controversy remains over whether and in what situations an employer can require employees to get vaccinated.In 1998, two patients died and 25 were sickened with flu at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.The deaths occurred in the hospital’s bone marrow unit.ospitals and health care systems now often mandate influenza vaccinations for their employees that may apply to everyone in the system, from janitors to chief executive officers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that vaccination coverage among health care personnel during the 2014-2015 season was 44.0% in settings where vaccine was not offered, promoted, or required and 73.6% or 83.9%, respectively, when vaccine was offered free on site for 1 day or multiple days. Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases have underlined the importance of herd immunity, and for health care workers, that means creating a healthier, disease-free environment for patients.Photo by i Stock “There are no direct data, but there are some indications that clearly show a trend toward more and more hospitals and health systems adopting policies that mandate their employees be immunized yearly against influenza,” said Paul Carson, MD, FACP, director of infection control and prevention at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, N. “Based upon self-reporting to the Immunization Action Coalition, it is probably safe to assume that, at a minimum, somewhere around 10% of hospitals have adopted these policies, and likely it is much higher than that,” he said.Only 12 percent of health care workers in the unit at the time had been vaccinated against the flu.

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