GOSHEN, Ind. / CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Six employees of Indiana's Goshen Hospital were fired recently after refusing to get the flu vaccine. Two others quit. Sue Schrock was a hospice nurse. She says, "I just feel like it's a toxin that I don't want in my body. There are side effects with that. There are no guarantees that it's even going to protect you."
Schrock and 25 other hospital employees filed two appeals asking not to get the vaccines for religious reasons. The hospital denied both claims, citing the health and safety of patients. Schrock's attorney, Alan Phillips of North Carolina, says flu vaccine mandates are a new phenomenon. He says, "This past fall, the issue really exploded."
He says it's more about money than health. "From what I understand, Medicaid and Medicare at some point in the near future is (sic) gonna start withholding two percent of their reimbursements to hospitals if the hospital doesn't have 90 percent of their employees vaccinated," says Phillips.
Here in Charlotte, Presbyterian Hospital does not require its employees get the flu vaccine. Employees who decline are required to wear a mask any time they are with or near patients during flu season. CMC also does not force employees to get the flu vaccine, but those who decline must sign a waiver and wear protective clothing.
"Personally, I think it's a personal choice. It's your risk of catching the flu," says Kannapolis resident Kandace Page. She is a nurse and hopes the Indiana workers get their jobs back, but, "I probably woulda kept my job. I probably woulda gotten the vaccine."
Others are torn on the hospital's decision to fire. One woman says, "It's fair because I don't wanna infect other people." Another woman says, "No, nobody should be able to fire you (for that). It just sounds wrong, right?"
Out of the 26 people who applied for the religious flu shot exemption at the Indiana hospital, a committee allowed 11 to continue working without getting the shot. Phillips says the fired employees could next ask the EEOC to intervene.