Hospitals crack down on staff refusing flu shots

In this Oct. 17, 2012 file photo, Bill Staples, a Mississippi Department of Health employee, is given an intradermal shot of flu vaccine by registered nurse Rosemary Jones, in Jackson, Miss. A CDC survey shows that in 2011, 29 hospitals in the U.S. fired employees that were not vaccinated against the virus. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Updated 8:44 PM ET

CHICAGO Patients can refuse a flu shot. Should doctors and nurses have that right, too? That is the thorny question surfacing as U.S. hospitals increasingly crack down on employees who won’t get flu shots, with some workers losing their jobs over their refusal.

“Where does it say that I am no longer a patient if I’m a nurse,” wondered Carrie Calhoun, a longtime critical care nurse in suburban Chicago who was fired last month after she refused a flu shot.

Cancer nurse Joyce Gingerich is among the skeptics and says her decision to avoid the shot is mostly “a personal thing.” She’s among seven employees at IU Health Goshen Hospital in northern Indiana who were recently fired for refusing flu shots. Gingerich said she gets other vaccinations but thinks it should be a choice. She opposes “the injustice of being forced to put something in my body.”

Hospitals crack down on staff refusing flu shots