SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif- It's a fierce flu season. In fact, officials are calling this the worst flu season in years. Some hospitals are cracking down on employees who won't get the flu shot. Hospital authorities and published reports say within the past two months at least 15 nurses and other hospital staffers in four states have been fired because of it.
At Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center you have to wear a protective mask if you don't get the shot, but it wasn't always this way. "We changed the policy if you decline the vaccine you needed to wear a mask in order to protect the other people there, visitors and patients in the hospital," said Lorene Campbell, an Employee Health Manager at Sierra Vista.
Before the change in policy about 72-percent of hospital workers were vaccinated, now the percentage is even higher. "Our vaccination rate immediately went up to 96 percent and now this year we are at 97 percent," said Campbell. Which according to federal data is a high figure because most hospitals fall short of 90 percent. A government health advisory panel has urged hospitals below 90 percent to consider a mandatory program for flu shots.
"We are here to protect our patients and we want to do everything we can to protect them," said Campbell. The hospital doesn't want to force employees to take it, because they all have their own personal reasons for refusing. "Some of them are allergic to some part in the vaccine, some have a personal or religious preference," said Campbell.
Dignity Health Hospitals on the Central Coast also have the same policy as Sierra Vista.
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