By Patricia Montemurri
Reflecting a growing trend nationwide, more hospitals in Michigan are requiring employees to get flu shots.
At St. Joseph Mercy Hospitals in Ann Arbor and its affiliates in Saline and Livingston County, some 6,000 employees were told to get a flu shot by Jan. 10 or risk termination.
Staffers can be exempt from shots for medical reasons — such as an allergy to eggs — or because of religious doctrines. Staffers also are required to receive a onetime booster shot against tetanus and pertussis.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that low vaccination rates among health care employees have contributed to flu outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes. Improved flu vaccination rates among employees also can reduce flu — and flu-related death — in long-term care facilities, the CDC says.
Immunizing health care workers also saves an employer between $63 and $95 per employee because it reduces absenteeism and lost productivity, according to University of Pittsburgh research presented in November at the American Public Health Association meeting.