Saint Joe Hospital near Ann Arbor says employees are now required to get a flu shot — at the risk of termination.  Russell Olmsted, who is in charge of Infectious Disease Control at the hospital, says a flu shot requirement is common at other health care facilities.

“There is a growing trend toward requiring this for health care workers. Think of hospitals as ares where we actually concentrate and bring in people who are either very young, very old or very susceptible to infection. So, we’re going this initiative really to protect the patients, number one,” Olmsted told WWJ.

Olmsted said when the vaccination was voluntary — only about half of the employees complied.

The employees’ union is objecting to the requirement, but Olmsted said the hospital isn’t worried about retribution.

“There is a good foundation for employers the make work rules and work requirements, and that would include vaccination,” he said.

A spokesperson for SEIU Healthcare Michigan, the union opposed to mandatory shots, says it can hurt workers, by driving them from their professions and giving them a false sense of protection from infections.

Legal experts say a court challenge would be difficult.  

WWJ Newsradio 950 opened up our Listener Line for comments on Thursday.

“I am a registered nurse, have been for close to twenty-eight years. I do believe that all of us should have a flu shot. Because we need to not only protect ourselves, but each other,” said one caller.

“You’re working with the public who you could catch it from. So, it’s just common sense,” agreed another.

Other callers disagreed.

“I am vehemently opposed to mandatory for hospital workers, partly due to the fact that some people don’t understand even their own health history,” said a listener.

What do you think? Comment below.

  1. Sally Hart says:

    How can one measure compliance of a voluntary work rule? The fact that it is voluntary and not required means it does not have to be complied with. Is the hospital paying for the shot or will the employees be required to pay out of pocket for something they must have to keep their job? How will the hospital handle a person allergic to eggs who cannot receive the shot? Will they be laid off with unemployment until the flu season is over next May? Does the union speak for all employees at the hospital? Does someone with absolutely no patient contact have to get the shot? More facts please or if Olmstead is so naive that he has not considered these conditions he does not belong in the job he is in.

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