COLUMBIA – MU Health Care has implemented a new policy that requires all employees to receive the seasonal flu vaccination.
The new policy follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation that all health care workers get vaccinated annually against influenza. MU Health Care employees are required to get the vaccination before the Friday deadline.
"The flu vaccine is a way to help protect our patients, their families and ourselves," MU Health Care spokesman Matt Splett said. "We have always offered a free vaccination opportunity for employees, but it has not been mandatory."
Employees who are not vaccinated by the deadline will be suspended without pay for up to 14 days, Splett said. If employees have not received the flu vaccination after the suspension period, they can be terminated from their job. According to the policy, employees can decline the vaccination for medical or religious reasons.
MU Health Care employees must follow other vaccination requirements. All employees must have received the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella and chickenpox when they are hired.
A mandatory seasonal flu vaccination is not a new requirement for Boone Hospital Center employees. The hospital made the vaccination mandatory in 2008.
"Before the policy, the flu vaccine was strongly encouraged, and we had a high participation rate," Boone County Health Center spokesman Jacob Luecke said. "People understand they are working in an environment that the flu is going to be present and understand the value of the flu shot."
According to the CDC, during the 2010 to 2011 flu vaccination season, 63.5 percent of health care workers received the shot. When the flu vaccination was mandatory, 98.1 percent of health care workers received the vaccination.