Toledo Talk

Kick this one around...

http://www.wlwt.com/news/local-news/cincinnati/TriHealth-fires-150-employees-for-not-getting-flu-shots/-/13549970/17523386/-/3khe3s/-/index.html

created by McCaskey on Nov 26, 2012 at 01:01:21 pm     News     Comments: 29

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I searched for information about the term "required" as it relates to employment at TriHealth. I dont have enough facts to pass judgement. Did the employees agree when they were hired that getting the shot was "required" to maintain employment? If so, then I guess they are legitimately out of a job through their own doing.

It does make me uncomfortable though. I also believe it is discriminatory. All adults over age 50 should have the shingles vaccination. Although shingles isn't easily transmissible (it can happen in certain circumstances) it does cost the employer and employee in (substantial) time lost on the job and reduced productivity. Does TriHealth require that vaccination too? I'll bet not. The shingles vaccine is expensive. Flu shots - dirt cheap.

Next thing you know your next raise will be based not on work performance but your BMI.

posted by holland on Nov 26, 2012 at 01:23:17 pm     #  

Most People forget Ohio is an "at will employment" state. Unless the reason your fired falls under a "protected Class" your pretty much s.o.l.

posted by lfrost2125 on Nov 26, 2012 at 01:25:54 pm     #  

I wonder if they might be eligible for unemployment benefits?

posted by holland on Nov 26, 2012 at 01:30:15 pm     #  

Apparently, at least 15 states have passed laws requiring health care workers to receive flu vaccinations.

posted by gamegrrl on Nov 26, 2012 at 02:15:47 pm     #  

Depends. Wife got fired for missing a few days of work because she had a seizure. At first her former employer declined to pay but then the ODJFS said that they had to pay back unemployment and current til it ran out.

posted by lfrost2125 on Nov 26, 2012 at 02:16:32 pm     #  

But she found a new job within a few weeks of being fired from the first place.

posted by lfrost2125 on Nov 26, 2012 at 02:17:23 pm     #   1 person liked this

Mixed feelings – I can’t see why someone wouldn’t want to get a flu shot. Influenza kills over 20K Americans per year. That said, I hate the thought of our employees having to dictate what I get vaccinated for, what’s next?

People worry about the government telling them what doctors to see and what medicines they can take, but our places of employment are worse…

Holland –S hingles is the chicken pox virus that can come back to attack older adults with very serious results. Again, no reason for people not to get this one too.

posted by SensorG on Nov 26, 2012 at 02:33:47 pm     #   2 people liked this

Yeah, I know SensorG. Both my Hub and myself have had the vaccination. One of our best friends was out for a year due to shingles. We both were advised to stay away from unvaccinated children/infants for a short post vaccine period. Our friend with active shingles was to told to stay away until the virus went dormant again. Its an ugly virus and everyone over the age of 50 should get it. The cost was $250 each! Ours was covered - eventually - by insurance.

posted by holland on Nov 26, 2012 at 02:52:21 pm     #  

I believe most insurance companies cover the cost of the shingles vaccine. More and more are covering the cost the of flu vaccine too. Both are available at just about every Kroger, CVS or Rite Aid Pharmacy.

posted by SensorG on Nov 26, 2012 at 03:07:29 pm     #  

I don't know the percentages--I'm sure it's single digits---but there are people who get sick as hell after getting the flu shot. Have a nephew who missed a week of work he was so sick afterwards. Point is, if you've had the shot before and gotten sick, what would your alternative have been if you worked for this company?

posted by McCaskey on Nov 26, 2012 at 03:22:19 pm     #  

I believe the flu vaccine comes in a nasal spray as well, but I couldn’t tell you if the possible side effects are the same or not.

posted by SensorG on Nov 26, 2012 at 03:35:58 pm     #  

How is your flu shot reported to the company in the first place? On your doctor's stationary?

Like McCaskey said, there are people who get sick as hell from flu shots, and I'm one of them. I haven't had a flu shot in decades. I refuse to get them since they make me sick anyway. Real sick, flu sick, not just a few sniffles.

I do get a flu-like condition about once every 3 years on average, even so. Muscle pains like I'd done some heavy lifting, no energy, inability to control body temperature, and the shits... but a week later I'm fine again. Probably 1-2 days where I stay in bed. But I don't want to go through that every effin' year.

posted by GuestZero on Nov 26, 2012 at 03:50:20 pm     #  

Don't ever join the military, they force you to get all kinds of shots.

posted by Linecrosser on Nov 26, 2012 at 04:17:24 pm     #   2 people liked this

I'd love to see the results of controlled studies concerning the efficacy of the flu shot. I am too lazy to look for them myself, but I would guess that it is a bit of a crap shoot. On the flip side, I can understand requiring healthcare professionals to get the shot even if it IS a crap shoot. Assuming it stops even one out of 20 from getting the flu, that is one less nurse or phlebotomist who will not pass it to a patient who is susceptible to the more dangerous symptoms.

posted by MoreThanRhetoric on Nov 26, 2012 at 04:51:03 pm     #   1 person liked this

The nasal spray version of the flu vaccine has a pretty long list of "who shouldn't take this" people. Over 50. Heart or lung disease. Under 2 years of age. The list goes on.

Here's an irony for you: The VA recommended that I start getting the flu shot every year about five years ago. The first three years I did so, I ended up in the hospital with a horrible respiratory infection. The past two years, I have passed on getting the shot. Guess what. Knock wood, I haven't had so much as a sniffle.

Of course, I am VERY careful to not expose myself to any more cooties than necessary. Because of my health issues, I work from home and go into our corporate offices just on Fridays. If there is a bug going around the office, however, I don't go in.

Plus, any time I leave the house, I use a pure saline nasal spray. I wash my hands a lot, too.

posted by gamegrrl on Nov 26, 2012 at 04:53:33 pm     #  

Sorry. I totally got off topic there. Ultimately, what I wanted to post is this excerpt from vactruth.com:

Starting July 1, 2012, and continuing through July 1, 2013, health facilities are required to develop programs to increase influenza vaccine rates. “The group” I mentioned earlier has issued guidelines explaining what type of facilities and healthcare workers should be covered under the mandate. I found the specifics complicated but, in essence, the new mandate leaves some decisions up to the individual facility.

Hospitals are required to set incremental goals (annual) and track vaccination rates on a form that includes the number of healthcare workers who are vaccinated, those who refused the vaccine, and those who have medical or religious reasons for declining.

The only acceptable medical contraindications recommended are “a severe allergic reaction to eggs or other vaccine component(s) or a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 6 weeks after a previous influenza vaccination.” Effective January 2013, the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) will monitor facilities’ vaccine coverage through an online surveillance system.

Facilities implementing the mandatory vaccine will need to decide whether to offer or mandate the flu vaccine, who is required to be vaccinated (employees with patient contact, medical personnel, volunteers, students, vendors), what type of exemptions they will accept (if any) and whether they will require proof (statement from doctor, a form signed by the employee) and signed declination forms, what they will do to employees who refuse (reassign them so they’re not in close contact with patients, require them to wear masks, fire them), and whether vaccination is a condition of initial employment.

For laws in your state, see the CDC’s State Immunization Laws for Healthcare Workers and Patients website. Keep in mind that the law could change at any time.

Here's the URL for the whole article:
http://vactruth.com/2012/09/22/no-flu-shot-no-job/

Here's where you can find state-by-state law related to this topic:
http://www2a.cdc.gov/nip/StateVaccApp/statevaccsApp/default.asp

posted by gamegrrl on Nov 26, 2012 at 05:03:59 pm     #  

I'm a bit torn on this issue.

Vaccines have their place. We insist children get them to ward off truly terrible diseases of the (thankfully) past, like polio, rubella, whooping cough, etc. And there are conditions attached if you don't have your kids vaccinated (they can't--usually--attend school in a lot of places).

Mandating a flu vaccine as condition of employment? I'm not so sure about this one, even in the health care field. It seems to me a much surer way to prevent transmission of colds and flu is having strong policies for health care workers that insist you (1) not go to work if you are sick and (2) clean, clean, clean, double clean, obsessively clean, and clean some more your hands, body, and physical plant where you work with patients. I'm not a germ-o-phobe, but how many infections and/or colds & flu are transferred from, say, hospital curtain to patient (such as in a busy ER with lots of people with different infections from room to room constantly turning over), don't clean instruments thoroughly, or other factors...other than a flu shot?

Here's one interesting tidbit

A study from Ondokuz Mayis University that was published in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials found that 95 percent of doctors' cellphones had bacteria on them, and one in eight had the superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on them. MRSA is reported to be the cause of as much as 60 percent of hospital infections in the United States. Cellphones in general have been found to have the dirtiest surface of anything in the home, possibly because they are often used close to the skin and because the heat from the skin and the battery provides a good environment where bacteria can grow.

Putting someone's employment on the line over a marginally effective "flu shot" when there are many, many other factors to consider within the environment seems a little excessive to me. But maybe that's just me...

posted by oldhometown on Nov 26, 2012 at 05:39:41 pm     #   1 person liked this

I know Ohio is an "at will" state but what if the company has you sign job requirements and what is cause for termination, oh goodness, I can't think of what that is called at hiring. But anyways, if it is not listed in those signed papers, is that still under the "at will" when your fired and its not listed under the firing requirements you signed? Hope my question makes sense.

posted by ToledoLatina on Nov 26, 2012 at 06:40:47 pm     #  

I'd get the free flu shot anyway, but I'd resent the company telling me I had to get the shot or be terminated. I think termination of employment is excessive, but I don't quite know what else you'd do unless you want to drop the whole business.

I'm with OldHomeTown regarding the work environment. If the employer is serious about preventing the spread of disease in the work place, the environment should be kept clean.

One office I worked in had a woman who came down with bacterial meningitis and died shortly thereafter. Everyone suddenly took a concerned interest in cleanliness after that.

posted by madjack on Nov 26, 2012 at 06:44:37 pm     #  

I can see both sides of the flu shot debate...

But the list of things employers are requiring as a condition of employment is getting too long; and getting out of bounds, in my opinion.

A lot of employers are now testing for nicotine, and requiring you to be tobacco-free as a condition of employment...even though tobacco is a LEGAL substance. That's bad enough...

As for these flu shots, I feel FORCING people to get them is going way too far. They are FORCING you to have something put into your body. If you are one of the people who tends to get sick as a result of these shots, will they give you any EXTRA paid sick time to recover from the bodily invasion they mandated you endure?

Where does this lead?

posted by Sohio on Nov 26, 2012 at 07:14:49 pm     #  

I've been getting flu shots for the last 20+ years. First started in the military where I had no choice, then continued to get them since my employer offered them for free. Only missed one shot a few years ago when there was a shortage. Guess what? I got the flu that year. Other than that, flu free.

posted by Erin on Nov 26, 2012 at 07:19:43 pm     #  

I'm old enough to have had most diseases that vaccines to prevent them are available today. Anyone who can remember a good case of whopping cough or the bad measles is grateful their children didn't have to get these diseases.

When my daughters went to school they were mandated to be vaccinated for those diseases they hadn't contracted. I thought it was a great idea.

When my mother in the early 1990's was in a nursing home I was not allowed to visit unless I had a flu shot. So since that time I have gotten one annually.

My husband and I have also been vaccinated against shingles. This was paid for by our insurance and it was expensive.

Mandated - I'm unsure about - but common sense tells me it is a good idea.

posted by jackie on Nov 26, 2012 at 09:33:59 pm     #   1 person liked this

Sohio, there's no force whatsoever in this equation. If you won't abide by a legal requirement as mandated by your employer or prospective employer, then you can't work for them. It's happened to me before, in case you take the tack that I'm being some hypocrite. And the employer could do it, since that's what "at will" employment is. They could tell you to have a green car, or wear a blue hat, or take a hike onto the unemployment line. It's not force, since nobody's forcing you to be an employee. No, not even economics is forcing you to do that.

Americans need to stop being scared little babies and return to being independent entrepreneurial types, even frontier types. Strong property rights imply this. Big government has been fooling people into thinking otherwise.

posted by GuestZero on Nov 27, 2012 at 11:38:06 pm     #  

GZ, I think you're being a little broad there.

There are limits to what your employer can force you to do; particularly on your own time and in your own space. There may be some debate on what the boundaries are, but the boundaries do exist.

I'm sure you are aware of that.

posted by Sohio on Nov 28, 2012 at 09:34:24 am     #  

Sohio, I prefer employers like government ask themselves at every step "is this moral to require" and "is this a moral action to take". Obviously.

But employers have rights. If you were running a business, you'd want the same rights, like the ones you'd have for people visiting in your house or even renting in same. Bounded by some legal restrictions, your property rights should prevail, and you can toss out such people at your whim. Renters you can remove by following a 28-day procedure, per Ohio law. Visitors can be removed immediately. You don't need a reason.

That's essentially what a property right is. You can even keep your property vacant. That's another right of property; use by whim, even if it's not used at all.

posted by GuestZero on Nov 28, 2012 at 01:24:42 pm     #  

Employers do have rights. And so do employees.

The question here is whether or not it is legal (or should be legal) for an employer to force you to have something injected into your body as a condition of employment. You spoke as if your employer has a right to make you do ANYTHING as a condition of employment. If this were true, there would be no sexual harrassment lawsuits. Given that gray area, it is a legitimate debate.

Homes and places of business are apples-and-oranges. They are subject to different laws. Their functions are of a different nature. Anyone can enter most businesses without asking first. If a stranger strolled into your house without asking first, you would probably call the cops or shoot them.

I feel like we are getting OT here...

posted by Sohio on Nov 28, 2012 at 01:57:45 pm     #  

Or they can just fire the individual that spreads the flu or maybe file lawsuits for endangerment for spreading diseases.

posted by Linecrosser on Nov 28, 2012 at 06:51:11 pm     #  

http://labor-employment-law.lawyers.com/human-resources-law/Forcing-Flu-Shots-Employees-and-Health-at-Work.html

Accord to this since Most employment is "at will" they can force you to get one, but like that site said there are a few exceptions.

posted by lfrost2125 on Nov 28, 2012 at 07:45:28 pm     #  

I work at a facility where it we are required to wear a mask if we don't get the flu shot. As much as I hate the mask, I'm happy that I have the choice. I'm not sure what I would do if I were forced to get the shot because I have gotten very sick from it in the past. In the two years that I've been wearing the mask, I have not been sick whatsoever. (knock on wood!)

posted by michl on Nov 29, 2012 at 12:08:08 am     #