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More hospitals require flu shots as condition of employment

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

More hospitals in Michigan are requiring all their employees to get flu shots this year.

Last year, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital made flu shots for all employees mandatory for the first time.

Lakshmi Halasyamani is the Chief Medical Officer for the hospital.

She says some employees were upset about the requirement – but most of them came around after hearing the reasons for the new policy.

"We've got patients who come to us sick who are very vulnerable and they expect us to be able to take care of them safely," says Halasyamani.  "And part of that expectation is that we vaccinate ourselves against the flu."

Halasyamani says simply asking employees not to come in if they feel ill doesn't work very well, because the flu virus can be transmitted a day or two before the person feels sick.

Flu is an easily transmitted virus, spread through sneezing or touching another person.  The flu kills thousands of people every year, mostly very young people, people with chronic illnesses, and the elderly.

Halasyamani says the vaccination rate for St. Joseph Mercy employees shot up as a result of the new policy, from about 50 percent, to 98 percent.

Munson Hospital in Traverse City, and Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak will be adding the flu shot requirement this year.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.