Essentia Health just fired 50 employees for refusing to get mandatory flu shots.

Dr. James Riddell (University of Michigan Infectious Disease Professor and my brother-in-law) returns to discuss the potential shades of gray here. Also: ZPupp’s new stitches, HPV vaccine, HIV PrEP, and more.

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10 Responses to “Fired Over The Flu Shot!”

  1. Candy MT1

    That’s OK – ZDoggMD… the ZDogg MD impostor is just another ESL dictator. All of us MTs are used to that and just make adjustments in our thinking when we hear them.

  2. Janet Cipoletta CRNP

    I believe the hospital has every right to fire people for not getting the flu shot or getting an exemption. It wasn’t just thrown on them. The flu vaccine has been around for a long time now. It’s not a new concept. You can be denied employment for not having an MMR or Varicella vaccines which are much less common… and the hospital pays for it.

  3. Jane Covell

    At my hospital you can sign a declination form if you don’t want the flu shot, but you are then required to wear a mask from November 1st to April first! Everyday! There are quite a few staff who chose that.

  4. Susie

    I feel that we should have the vaccine unless there is an medical reason or issue not to have the flu vaccine. But since I work as an NNP I feel that we have to protect our tiny patients and their families. On a side note the year that JFK was killed, I had MMR and chicken pox and lost my hearing in my right ear, yes I am passionate about vaccines, my dearest friend went blind in one eye that same year from the measles

  5. Barbie Gregory

    ZzDogg it’s fine to force immunization on healthcare providers, but Inly if ir across the board. At my facility all in house staff are asked to get immunized, or wear a mask throughout fly season. The problem arises when physicians are not doing either. They see as many ir more patients than any in house staff, so everyone still remains exposed. What do you think of this problem?

  6. KJ

    I have worked at a facility that required masks if you did not receive the flu vaccine. I found it to have more accepting behaviors than I initially thought. I have also seen, unfortunately, the direct negative impact Essentia’s recent firing had not only on the community but the staff morale and trust in that particular HC system. Why not take the stance of making staff wear a mask? I am personally thankful I am not employed by the corporate system of Essentia but rather a community hospital that is able to garner compliance without strong arming the employees. By The Way, I received my flu shot and didn’t get the flu. Gasp! I know!! 😳😋

  7. Thor Hauff, fnp

    I think if the requirement of full vaccination was a condition at hiring. Those who change their minds later, now refusing the shot should be fired. If the hospital did not have mandatory condition when person was hired, then changed the policy later, should not be fired.

  8. Dr Jim

    I just wanted to say thank you for what you do! We all know that laughter IS the best medicine and you give us so much! Appreciate you — keep up the good work!

  9. Dave

    I’m not an Anti-vax guy, but would like to discuss the topic of the flu vaccine. I believe in and understand the concepts of vaccination. I clearly understand that 20% vaccine efficacy equates a certain percentage of increased useful antibodies on hand to fight off a flu infection. Even if the vaccine is poorly matched to what emerges in the flu season, getting the vaccine can lessen the time you suffer symptoms of infection if any at all. I except that the flu is highly contagious, even though it seems to be poorly studied, and that the flu can be spread before a contaminated person displays any serious symptoms. Hey and just for you, I know for a fact that flu shot will NOT give you the flu. So I will not debate that at all. I do however have questions that address what I believe to be that we have over exaggerated confidence that we are truly protecting a each other and most importantly a susceptible patient population. After all, the biggest selling point of supporting the idea of a mandatory flu vaccination program is that we are protecting ourselves, each other and that vulnerable patient population.

    1. Is being very contagious and able to spread before becoming symptomatic limited only to those who did not get the shot? If not, wouldn’t someone who got the shot, and only is getting that guaranteed partial immunity, be more likely to be the one to spreads the flu, being asymptomatic after being contaminated with the flu? It seems like administrations try to sell the shot as if it is some kind of magic shield that the flu bounces off of, when we know that you can get the shot, contract the flu, and in years of low vaccine efficacy, suffer some of those dreaded symptoms. I am sure that a vaccinated person will have a decreased time of viral shedding (being contagious) than an unvaccinated person, how long, may be directly related to how effective the vaccine is that year. I don’t know. I can’t find any information on how fast a vaccinated person’s immune system eliminates the chance of being contagious based off each years efficacy percentage.

    2. Just how many different strains of the flu can emerge each year during the flu season? I understand that there are types, subtypes, linagages, and strains that far out number the 3-4 variants that are in the shot every year, and that the shot only contains variants of type A and B. I understand that there are far more educated people than me out there, working everyday to get a jump ahead of this virus. So is influenza type C not considered to be problematic for, and potentially fatal to a vulnerable patient? What about the palithera of Non-influenza viruses that circulate at the same time and is not being vaccinated against? Are they clearly not risk factors and contributors in each flu season morbidity and mortality rates?

    3. So if we are going to get the influenza vaccine every year, and protecting that vulnerable patient population is so important, why does it seem that we really are not doing just that? Shouldn’t everyone be wearing a mask regardless of vaccine status? Is that pious pedestal we are preaching from not so tall? It is well known that when healthcare workers are given the choice to vaccinate or not without consequence, less than half of healthcare workers will not vaccinate. So why do they still ask you to volunteer to get vaccinated in many areas of the country. Why are a lot of these masking policies obviously punitive rather than designed to be as common a PPE as donning gloves? Would it not be prudent for a immunocompromised patient, if able, to wear a mask, to do so before coming incontact with the public and healthcare providers, and forewarn the need for isolation? Obviously any patient in respiratory distress of any kind should trigger providers to wear a mask around them regardless of vaccination status, because we should know that the vaccine is not that magical shield of flu protection and in many cases the flu does not travel alone. Yet we don’t and the CDC ESTIMATES huge numbers of flu related deaths every year while not being able to prove that.

    4. I think we both know that nothing is without risk. The flu shot does pose, what we are told to be rare risks. Why then does the shot not come with some assurances if it is volenterry every year? I have never been told that if I were to suffer from one of those rare risks, that I and my family would not be left alone to deal with expensive hospital bills, lost time, disabilities, and maybe even the loss of a career. If we are so sure of the protection and safety the vaccine gives every year, then should they not put their money where their mouths are with some kind of insurance or guarantee? Don’t you think some promise of compensation would encourage higher employee participation, or just the opposite? I know I would feel better about it.

    5. To the best of my understanding, the flu vaccine goes through the same FDA three phase clinical trial approval process as all vaccines to prove safety, purity, potency, and effectiveness. How then can effectiveness be proven against the flu that has not emerged yet? Is there any studies out there towards methods of eliminating this guessing game we play every year?

    I have real concerns, because I have seen hospital employees, who felt bad enough to get swabbed, test positive for the flu, and was allowed to continue to work, just because they got the flu shot that year. I have now doubt that the vaccination program, although efficacy rates are dynamic, does some good, but all the good it does, means nothing if we aren’t making a holistic effort to stop the spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses all the time and especially around the vulnerable patients. I also feel that we are skating on some thin ice, by not objecting to the extortionary methods of our government threatening withholding medicare/medicaid reimbursements for not having 90% participation rates by 2020. If this is true, this sets a new persistent for making vaccines, and who knows what else, mandatory in an unethical fashion. I have had this discussion with infection control personal, and basically told to go away. Not Cool!

  10. Anonymous

    Will wear the mask. We are inundated with more than enough toxic chemicals that mix in our body and Drs’ couldn’t care less about the side effects these chemicals cause. Death by Dr is thr #1 cause of death in America. You people need naturopathic training because alopathic medicine stinks for someone who uses Homeopathy and Naturopathy to prevent disease. The issue is, when there is an accident or a bone breaks, you become a victim of drugs that poisons the body!