More Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Medical Facilities are Requiring Employees to Receive Flu Vaccine

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

We’re coming up on that time of year when stuffy noses and scratchy throats turn into the full-blown influenza virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu season usually runs from November 1 through March 31.

With the flu season comes the debate over the legality of mandatory flu shots for health care professionals. Many hospitals in Florida, and nationwide, are requiring clinicians, office workers, and volunteers to get flu shots. Some businesses offer incentives for complying with the flu shot mandate, while others, as we saw last year, fire health care professionals that refuse to get vaccinated. Inevitably businesses requiring flu shots stir up controversy between employee rights and patient safety. Click here to read our previous blog on this issue.


Hospitals Require Flu Vaccines to Protect the People Who Can’t Get Vaccinated.


According to the CDC, 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with flu-related illnesses annually. On average 24,000 of those people die as a result of their infection. Most hospitals that require a flu vaccine or some preventive measure state safety of patients as the chief reason for the mandate.


Los Angeles County Requires Health Workers to Get Flu Shot or Wear Mask.

According to the Los Angeles Times, for the first time, every Los Angeles County health care worker will be required to either get the flu vaccine or wear a mask while working with patients. The Los Angeles County Public Health Director issued a mandate on October 2, 2013, that all workers in hospitals, nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities who work in patient areas or have direct contact with patients must receive an annual flu vaccination. If workers choose not to get the flu vaccine, they must wear a protective mask while in contact with patients.

Click here to read the entire article from the Los Angeles Times.


Florida Hospitals Fight the Flu.

Many hospitals and health facilities in Florida had orders similar to those set up in Los Angeles County. Last flu season, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, set up vaccination stations around the campus for health professionals. The cancer center’s policy states that employees must protect themselves and patients from flu exposure. This either means by a vaccine or wearing a surgical mask throughout the workday.

As an incentive, Tampa General employees, with the hospital’s insurance, receive a $130 deduction on their health premiums for getting a flu vaccine.

We recently heard that BayCare Health System in Florida, advised employees they will be required to get vaccinated or wear a protective mask.


Health Care Professionals Review Policies and Procedures.

Vaccines are one of the best medical tools to eradicate disease and to protect the most vulnerable. Strongly recommending a vaccine to health care professionals and mandating it are two very different things. As we wrote last year, there were hundreds of health care professionals, some in Florida, that lost their jobs for not complying with their facility’s flu shot mandate.

Be aware as a health care provider you are bound by the policies and requirements of your employer in the absence of a written contact that states differently. If the facility’s policies state you must get a flu vaccine or wear a protective mask, you agreed to that condition when you agreed to work that the facility.

States and hospitals may not back down on this issue. We know it is a hot button topic, which may have to be decided by the courts.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Comments?

What do you think of mandated flu shots for health care workers? Is receiving a flu shot mandatory at your job? As a health care professional, do you think it is important to receive a flu shot? In your opinion, is there enough medical evidence to justify firing health care professionals for not receiving the flu shot? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Sources:

Brown, Eryn. “L.A. County Health Workers Required to Get a Flu Shot or Wear Mask.” LA Times. (October 15, 2013). From: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-flu-shots-20131015,0,1066940.story

Siegel, Marc. “Required Flu Vaccines for Healthcare Workers Won’t Protect Patients.” U.S. News. (February 4, 2013). From: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/02/04/requiring-flu-vaccines-for-healthcare-workers-wont-protect-patients


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.


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10/23/2013

Comments:

Response to: More Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Medical Facilities are Requiring Employees to Receive Flu Vaccine
Sunday, February 8, 2015
RJ says:

Natural immunity trumps attenuated hands down. Why not develop an inhalant vaccine without harmful ingredients, such as mercury or formaldehyde, and other questionable things like monkey or dog organs?

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