The Detroit News, September 1, 2011

Most Metro Detroit health systems will require employees to get flu shots this year, and some say they'll fire workers who don't. Such policies are growing increasingly common nationwide, and this year more Michigan systems such as Royal Oak-based Beaumont Health System and Munson Healthcare in Traverse City are mandating shots for the first time, as recommended recently by the American Hospital Association. In most cases, health systems pay, offering free shots to employees during work hours. Not all employees welcome the policies. At least two Michigan groups are meeting with state legislators urging them to outlaw tying continued employment to vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for years has recommended healthcare workers receive an annual influenza vaccine, but only about 62 percent of U.S. health care workers do -- one of the statistics that prompted the hospital group's recommendation. "It's about protecting our patients," said Nancy Schlichting, who sits on the national association board and is CEO of the Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System. Henry Ford implemented a mandatory shot or mask requirement in 2010 for workers providing patient care, and had a 90% compliance rate. "If you don't have a flu shot, you're potentially exposing a compromised patient. I mean, that's a quality issue," Schlichting said. But Barbara Skurnowicz, founder and president of Franklin-based HealthCare Professionals for Vaccine Choice, disputes that notion.

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