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UW Health institutions to make flu shots mandatory

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Immunization graphic
Immunization graphic

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Virtually all Wisconsinites are urged to get flu shots – but only 41 percent did so last year.

It’s one reason that more health care and nursing institutions are requiring most of their employees to get vaccinated.

The UW Health institutions are making flu shots mandatory for the first time. Employees are exempt for medical or religious reasons – and the UW Hospital union for nurses and therapists has asked that personal beliefs be added as an exemption.

The Wisconsin State Journal said about 26 percent of state hospitals and 12 percent of nursing homes in the Badger State had requirements for flu shots last winter. Another 69 percent of hospitals and three-fourths of nursing homes made employees sign waivers if they did not get vaccinated.

Most UW Hospital employees already get flu shots voluntarily. UW Health workers who don’t get either vaccinations or doctor-approved exemptions by December 1st can be put on unpaid leave.

Those not complying 45 days after that could be fired.

John Sauer, who heads a group representing non-profit nursing homes, believes that most homes will eventually require flu shots. He said a flu outbreak could easily put residents at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control said 77 percent of health care workers got flu shots last year – and many health officials are trying to get those numbers above 95 percent. 

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