A lot of people skip out on getting their flu shot every year. In fact, the number of people getting the yearly flu shot decreased in the 2017 flu season. Whether people are opting out because they are against vaccinations or just because they aren’t worried about getting sick, the fact remains that the flu is a serious illness. For people who are already in the hospital, their chances of dying from the flu are even greater. So, should people who work in hospitals be required to get the shot?
One hospital is grappling with that exact question. A Missouri nurse was allegedly fired from her job at Mercy Hospital after she refused to get a flu shot. The hospital had previously implemented been owned by an entity that enforced flu shot policy for all of its employees unless they have a medical or religious reason that warrants an exemption. The nurse cited a religious reason for her objection to the vaccine. However, she says after the hospital was brought under new management, the hospital denied her exemption and her refusal to get the vaccine resulted in her termination.
The situation has caused a debate on whether or not required flu vaccines are justified.
One on side of the debate is a group of protestors who say that the nurse was wrongfully terminated. The nurse in question says when she had previously worked for a different hospital, she had been allowed the religious exemption. Protestors believe the nurse’s religious freedom is being infringed upon by the hospital’s vaccine requirement. It is unclear why the nurse’s request was denied. The hospital claims that 170 of their 44,000 employees claimed religious or medical exemptions and that “most” were granted.
11/27 UPDATE: Contrary to Mercy Hospital's statement to local media, Mercy South terminated the Nurse 11/26 after they…Posted by Nelia Aubuchon on Saturday, November 24, 2018
The hospital is defending their actions and their policy. More than two-thirds of U.S. hospitals require employees to get the flu vaccine. Mercy states that “the point of [their] flu vaccination policy is simple: protection against the flu virus saves lives, especially those of [their] most vulnerable patients.” The hospital believes the flu vaccine is necessary where possible to prevent the spread of the flu vaccine to patients who are already at a greater risk of getting seriously ill. The CDC also recommends that all health care employees receive the flu vaccine to better protect their patients.
What do you think? Is this hospital infringing on a nurse’s rights by firing her for not getting a flu shot? Is the requirement of the flu shot necessary to keep hospitals safe for patients? Let us know in the comments!