Some health officials, hospital employees won't be required to h - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Some health officials, hospital employees won't be required to have flu vaccine

Posted: Updated:
Last year, all Health Department employees were required to receive flu vaccines. Last year, all Health Department employees were required to receive flu vaccines.

When you go get your flu shot, there's a chance the person on the other end of the needle may not be protected.

Not all healthcare workers get the flu shot, and some health officials think that could lead to fewer people getting vaccinated.

Parents are worried because they don't want to bring their children to the Health Department to receive their flu vaccines if that vaccine is being given by someone who hasn't even received it.

Last year, the Vanderburgh County Health Department began requiring all employees receive the flu vaccine, a policy Dr. Ray Nicholson supports.

"As the Health Department, I think we should be leaders in what we do health wise in the city and we should set an example," he said.

The Health Department is now granting exceptions to employees who feel getting vaccinated goes against their religious beliefs.

"If we don't take the shot ourselves, how can we go out to other companies and to the population and ask them to take the shot?" Dr. Nicholson asked.

Dr. Nicholson is afraid employees will use the new religious exemption as an excuse to avoid getting the shot.

"Sometimes, people declare that their religion does not allow them to take it, where in fact their real reason is that they simply don't want to take it," he said.

Some parents believe there is a perceived level of safety when they take their children to the Health Department, that is now weakened.

"I think it's important that they do that for the children that go in there," said one Evansville resident.

The Health Department's policy joins St. Mary and Deaconess Hospitals which grant exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

Both exemptions require a notice from the employees doctor or their clergy.

"Last year, we had eighty exemptions total, most of those were for some sort of health reason, only two were for religious exemption," said Laura Forbes with St. Mary's.

But Dr. Nicholson says as many as 10% of Health Department employees abuse the exemption.

Deaconess Hospital says they granted 151 exemptions last year, six of which were based on religious grounds.

Copyright 2012 WFIE. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow