Local hospitals encourage flu shots for employees

Hospital officials believe their employees should get flu shots to protect visitors and patients, but getting everyone vaccinated is a work in progress.
Tom Jackson
Jan 18, 2013

Most local hospitals have room for improvement in their efforts to get employees vaccinated, according to the Ohio Hospital Compare website, run by the state health department.

During the last flu season — Sept. 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012 — about 76 percent of Ohio’s hospital employees got a flu vaccination, according to the website.

One local hospital did better than that. Mercy Willard Hospital had a vaccination rate of about 89 percent, the website shows.

But other hospitals have some work to do. Here are the percentages: Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky: 69.1 percent; Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton 62.9 percent; Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk 61.6 percent; Memorial Hospital in Fremont 58.2 percent; and Bellevue Hospital 48 percent.

Firelands’ statistics for the current flu season will likely be higher, said Patricia Martin, RN and vice president of quality and patient satisfaction at Firelands.

Hospital administrators have told employees they want everyone to get a flu shot, Martin said, and the hospital has used a carrot-and-stick approach to get things moving.

If employees don’t get a vaccination, they must explain the decision in writing, Martin said.

The hospital covers the cost of flu shots and does not charge an out-of-pocket fee or bill the employee’s insurance company, Martin said.

Firelands tried to get everyone vaccinated by Dec. 31. When the flu season hit recently, some employees who had resisted went ahead and got their shots, she said.

Martin said the hospital believes flu shots are a good idea, but it also tries to get everyone to wash their hands, follow good practices when they sneeze and cough, and stay home when they’re sick.

John Palmer, a spokesman for the Ohio Hospital Association, said about 85 percent of its members require employees to get flu shots.

Still, hospitals typically allow exceptions for people who cite medical or religious reasons.

Fisher-Titus encourages vaccinations but has not made them mandatory, said Dr. Gary Moorman, vice president of medical affairs at the hospital.

Moorman said he’s aware hospitals in other parts of the country have told employees to get a flu shot, or else.

“We’re trying to monitor that. If and when appropriate, we would go in that direction,” he said.

Tamara Binger, the hospital’s infection control specialist, said the vaccine is not 100 percent effective and not everyone responds well.

“There are also people who are allergic to a portion of the vaccine,” she said. “You have to take that into consideration when you’re developing a policy for mandatory vaccination.”

Magruder Hospital’s policy resembles the one at Firelands.

“While it is strongly encouraged that employees at Magruder Hospital get a flu shot, it is not required,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Brand said. “Employees choosing not to get a flu shot must fill out a declination statement citing their reason.”

The Ohio Veterans Home strongly encourages staffers to get flu shots, but it does not require it, superintendent Richard Hatcher said.

“I can tell you, I got mine,” he said. “We do provide the flu shot for free for all of our staff and residents.”

Bellevue Hospital’s spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment.
 

Comments

Unassumer

First of all, there's more to this flu epidemic than we are being given information on. It's much more widespread and virulent so shots may not even help. Second, flu shots may only be about 60% effective on any given strain. This particular strain seems to be worse than those in the past. Then there is the other respiratory illness that is affecting very young children. So, tell me, where do these illnesses come from in the first place?

Brainiac2007

Well I need to add to this little flu shot rampage that everyone is on. 1st off I did NOT and WILL NOT get injected with a foreign substance that is just a little over 50% effective. In previous years I had accepted this shot and 3 years in a row became violently ill within days of receiving it. Then they add the swine flu mess in and it begins paralyzing children and not working so swell for adults. Lets face it there are hundreds if not thousands of strains of the flu floating around, and lets see this lovely shot covers maybe 3 of them. People need to wash their hands, take vitamins, use Airborne before entering public places, and carry a few medical masks along with you for YOUR protection. If you encounter an individual coughing, feverish etc, put your mask on and remove yourself as quickly as possible! Natural interventions in this country are so much the past, and medicine, medicine, medicine when its not necessary is totally our present and future.

Justme...

If the vaccine is "just a little over 50% effective", don't you think health care workers who come into contact with people who's immune systems are compromises should get it?

Unassumer

I absolutely agree. I have never had a flu shot and never will. I believe the whole thing is a concerted effort to kill us off.

8ballinthesidepocket

Your name should be "brainless!"

Bluto

Relax , Disease is just nature's way of culling the herds . Perhaps this is what society needs to cure what ails us . Captain Trips is here . Can Randall Flagg be far behind ? ; ))))

Pete

I had the flu last year and popped that into the DVD player.

Not a good movie to watch when one feels like $#!%

Obamagalomania

Flagg was on TV yesterday

Maboom2Paul

I recently came down Staph celulitis after spending all my time visiting my father in FRMC. No one can tell me how I got it. but, I was speaking to a woman who recently spent time in the ER there and came down with the same illness. I think they have a much bigger problem going on. I have never seen this hospital so lax. It has really gone down hill. I was in my dad's room for 7 hours straight and the only time i saw a nurse was at shift change for vitals. I was roaming those hall at 11 o'clock at night not one person stopped me, and I never saw a security guard. Do they have one?

nosey rosey

Many family doctors will tell you that flu shots are a crap shoot at best. I do not and will not get one. If I get the flu, so be it.

luvblues2

The Hospitals make you give a reason for not accepting the shot if you work there? What if one says "because I don't want it"?

44846GWP

A lot of crazy people on here.