1k Lee Memorial Health workers miss flu shot deadline

Roughly 1,000 employees at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, Fla., missed the deadline to get their flu shot or file an exemption, which could lead to their termination, according to a report by The News-Press.

This is the first year Lee Memorial required flu vaccinations for employees. The health system had set a vaccination deadline of Dec. 1, but has since delayed the deadline to Friday to give employees extra time, according to the report. If workers don't comply or file for an exemption by Dec. 5, they will face disciplinary action and possibly be fired.

More than 9,050 employees, or 86 percent of the system's staff, had been vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to the report. This shows a great improvement over last year's vaccination rate for Lee Memorial, which was 66 percent. An additional 390 employees had received exemptions for medical or religious reasons, and will have to wear a mask if they are in close contact with patients.

A system spokeswoman told The News-Press that the 1,000 employees who are not vaccinated or exempt may just have missing paperwork. "We have efforts underway to connect individually with each staff member who we think has not yet complied," she said, emphasizing the system wouldn't take "corrective action" if indeed the paperwork was just misplaced.

Mandatory flu shot policies in healthcare settings are becoming more popular, and a study released in 2014 showed a strong connection between how many healthcare workers in a community who are vaccinated and how many cases of flu-like illnesses are reported in the community — in other words, when healthcare workers get vaccinated, fewer people in the community get the flu.

However, mandatory flu shot policies have legal ramifications for hospitals and health systems. Read about legal considerations for mandatory employee flu shot policies.

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