Methodist Hospital Mandates Flu Vaccine

A local hospital has decided to make flu shots "mandatory" for all its employees this year. Methodist Hospital is one of the largest in the nation to move away from a "voluntary" flu shot program, in hopes of protecting patients from the potentially deadly virus. David Pitman reports.

Even though health care workers are more likely than anyone else to be around sick people, only about 40 percent of them bother to get a flu shot during any given year.  That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Marc Boom is the Executive Vice-President of Methodist Hospital in Houston.  He says his hospital is part of a growing number of facilities acting on the recommendation from the CDC that vaccines for health care workers be mandatory.

"What we're really trying to do is avoid an unknowing transmission — an employee who gets the flu, but in the first day or two is already contagious but doesn't know they have it."

Starting a week from Monday, all 6,000 Methodist Hospital employees and hundreds of vendors who may come in contact with patients will have 45 days to get a flu shot.  There will be exceptions for people who have medical or religious reasons for declining the vaccine.  But Dr. Boom says no one will lose their jobs for refusing a flu shot.

"We've got programs in place to spend some time with and educate around flu and why we do it and everything else.  And so we'll work with those employees and I'm highly confident the vast, vast majority will get the flu shot when we do that."

This required vaccine for Methodist Hospital workers only covers the "seasonal" flu.  The much-talked about vaccine for the H1N1 virus, or Swine Flu, is not yet available.

 

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David Pitman

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