JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What if your boss fired you because you didn't get a flu shot? That's the new policy for some hospitals across the nation. We did not find any hospitals in Jacksonville with that strict of policy.
Baptist South ER Nurse Kelley Costlow knows the importance of getting a flu shot. "We see anywhere from 10 to 30 cases of flu-like systems every day," she said.
She's part of the nearly 80 percent of the First Coast Baptist workforce who complied with the company's flu shot policy. And she said for a good reason. She explained, "For safety patient reasons, you don't want to expose your patients that you're taking care of to anything if you become sick." Costlow also wants to protect herself and her family, so she doesn't bring work germs back home.
Unlike some other hospitals in the country, Baptist is not firing anyone who refuses to get a shot. But, if employees say "no," they will have to explain. Employee Health Coordinator at Baptist Health Donna Cooley said, "We use that opportunity when they declined it so that we could educate them and see where the education needs were."
Across town at St. Vincent's, the policy is a bit more strict for employees and vendors. "We've asked them to participate in a mandatory flu vaccination process," Jody Saffert said. Employees can opt out for religious or medical reasons. They can also just flat out refuse.
"The stipulation is they need to meet with their manager and our division vice president to talk about their objections to the flu. And the reason for that is to help us understand what are some of those myths or objections so we can help rectify those," Saffert said.
And if they don't want to explain themselves and watch an educational video on the flu shot, they will be suspended. At this time, they will not fire someone for not getting a flu shot.
Hospital administrators say the policies are in place for a very good reason. To protect their patients, and the workers who take care of them. Costlow said, "I wanted to get the flu vaccine."
We called a number of hospitals in our area. Most say they have a policy regarding flu shots, and say next year, they will get more strict.