Flu shots now mandatory for MU Health workers

The flu shot was made mandatory at the beginning of the fall semester.

After years of receiving shots as one’s choice it is now mandatory for employees of MU Health Care to receive flu shots annually based on a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“University of Missouri Health Care has, for many years, provided free flu vaccines to employees,” MU Healthcare spokesman Matt Splett said.

Splett said the CDC recommended that health care employees should be vaccinated against influenza every year.

The benefits from employees receiving the flu shot is not solely granted to the employees themselves but also the patients of the Boone Hospital Center.

“Having the staff vaccinated is really a best practice for us as it helps stop the spread of the flu in our hospital,” Boone Hospital Center spokesman Jacob Luecke said. “It helps protect our staff in addition to our patients.”

Before, when the shot was not mandatory, employees were allowed to refuse the shot. Now that the shot is mandatory, employees who had not received the flu shot in previous years have to seek exemption from the regulation on two bases.

“Employees can decline vaccination on the basis of valid-evidence-based medical conditions or religious restriction,” Splett said.

If an employee does not have just reason to be exempted from the rule, consequences are implemented.

“Employees who are not vaccinated during the designated period will be suspended without pay for up to 14 days,” Splett said. “Employees who do not complete the vaccination requirement during this suspension period are subject to termination.”

Splett explained as of Nov. 25, more than 90 percent of MU Health Care employees have received an annual flu vaccination.

“Before it was mandatory, we already had a large percentage of staff choose to receive the flu vaccine,” Luecke said. “But with the mandatory program, we did see a significant increase to include nearly everyone as it was now a condition of employment.”

The flu shot was made mandatory at the beginning of the fall semester.

“(Employees have to get the flu shot) once per year,” Luecke said. “Last year, we had an unusual situation with H1N1 that required two vaccinations. But this year, and every other year, it is just one vaccination per year.”

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