Should Hospital Workers Who Don’t Get a Flu Shot Be Required to Wear a Mask?

(Photo: Yasser Alghofily)

A few weeks ago, before the flu was national news, a reader who works at a hospital in Portland, Or., wrote to say: “The organization I work for just started this policy, I think it is very interesting and may push those who don’t want to get a flu shot for whatever reason to get a flu shot to avoid the stigma of wearing a mask. The employee comment section has ranged from HIPPA violations to discrimination for those who can’t have a flu shot based on egg allergies.”

Here’s the policy:

You may have heard by now: Flu season is ramping up in Oregon, with cases now starting to affect hospitalized patients in greater numbers. For individuals whose immune systems are compromised by other conditions, the flu can be life threatening.

To keep patients safe, a new Influenza Vaccination and Masking policy requires that workforce members do one of two things during flu season:

  • Get vaccinated. Free vaccinations are available through Occupational Health. If you’ve already gotten a vaccination somewhere other than Occupational Health — but haven’t been offered an official blue check mark sticker on your ID badge to reflect that fact — make sure you’ve filled out your attestation form.
  • Wear a mask. If the vaccine’s not for you or you just haven’t gotten it yet, policy requires that starting at 12 p.m. on Dec. 19 — and until the active implementation is lifted — yellow procedure masks must be worn within 6 feet of patients in patient care areas.

Remember: The official blue check mark sticker on your photo ID badge is the visual key used to determine who needs to wear a mask. Wearing the sticker is a choice, for those who have been vaccinated, but without it masks are required.

This doesn’t strike me as unreasonable. After all, hospitals are in the business of making sick people well, not making sick people sicker, and one thing a flu vaccine is meant to accomplish is to stop relatively healthy people from passing along a flu to more vulnerable people.

Your thoughts? 


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  1. Concerned says:

    San Diego pt: couldn’t have said it better myself. I don’t think we rely enough on our bodies own immune systems.

    My question still, that no one has answered, maybe because of lack if knowledge, are we creating a super strain of flu by trying to prevent the natural way of things?

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  2. Ronald Low says:

    Our hospital system has pretty much the same policy. Influenza is a major nuisance, but only occasionally fatal to healthy people. If the system is working correctly, the hospital is not filled with healthy people, and the extra stress to an already unhealthy person may tip them over the edge. You give up all kinds of rights to anonymity when you join the hospital staff: you are usually required to wear a badge that shows your name, your education level (which is highly correlated to income), what department you work in… and, armed with that information,patients can find even more information about you–where you trained, when you graduated, whether your medical or nursing license has ever been partially or totally suspended and, if so, for what reason….

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  3. Junko says:

    Actually, I would suggest taking this one step further.

    Everyone who works at a hospital should wear a surgical mask. The flu vaccine is far from 100% and there are many other viruses and bacteria that can be transmitted by a cough or a sneeze.

    Plus, it’s less discriminatory against those that have not had a flu shot, for whatever reason. For instance, there are medical reasons, such as allergies, in which people absolutely can not get a flu shot.

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  4. JOEL says:


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  5. Rick Thomas says:

    My Story!

    My Name is Rick Thomas age 48 Years old I am what you call a Dangerous Severe Needle Phobic witch is a Real Medical Condition! for the past 48 Years I have never had a vaccination or Blood work or any Needle procedures Ever Done on me. Back in 1976 I was on Vacation in Wisconsin with a severe Ear Infection and I was taken to a local doctor in town but I had no idea this Doctor was going to Give me a Shot of Penicillin with a 2 inch Needle and Totally got Violent and very angry and was thrown to the Ground by 4 Doctors and I threw them in the Air against the wall and Ran the Hell out of there the Doctor and Nurses from what I was told got Hurt with my Temper! so for the past 48 years I live in Fear and Anger because I Refuse to Ever have a Needle for any Reason even if I am Dying! I Have No Medical insurance and NEVER WILL!!! I Never go to clinics or Hospital and stay away like the plague! I know this might sound extreme but this is my life and I will not Except being a Lab Rat for anyone and I live my life in fear Every day. I have never been so Angry to see Children go through Hell of Vaccinations These Things are very Painful and your Hurting Children and adults everyone has Rights including children but if the Medical field Keeps Treating patients in this manner More and more people will avoid medical care and stay far away. This past week I had a encounter at a local Walgreens of a woman who walked up to me and grabbed me by the arm and I went into full rage telling her to f off keep that crap away from me. I mean what I say I will Never Ever let Anyone stick me with a Needle because they will be very very sorry they tried

    Advise For Adults & children.

    1. Never Hold or force anyone to take a Needle They Have Needle phobia
    2. if you see a person who has this condition Refuse to treat them and have them seek Help
    3. Children will soon have Rights to refuse Needles and parents will no longer be able to force this on them. I am working on this goal
    4. More and more Family’s are Refusing Vaccinations and that’s a good thing Never Refuse to treat patients because there not vaccinated

    I Understand Hospitals need to care for patients but this subject Has Bothered me for the past 48 years and there is no need for the neglect of patients living with this fear and for the medical field to ignore and force this on people!

    Please Google Needle Phobia A Real Medical Epidemic That 10-20 percent of the world has!

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  6. freedom says:

    I personally think the mask does not prevent those from getting the flu. Question, if you have a mask on, and you sneeze, should you sneeze in the mask? It makes no sense to wear the mask, especially since I sit behind a desk, sort of like a bank teller, and I have no contact with patients. Most of my time is spent on the phone dealing with insurances and patients, and half the time they can barely hear me on the phone…then when patients come in they are startled to see me with a mask and feel they need one too for fear that I may be sick as well. It is strange even to see some who are sick, walking around coughing in their hands, sniffling…and touching everything…how come those people dont wear masks, or better yet, stay home, go to the doctor and don’t spread your germs??? working in a healthcare facility it just amazes me how many nurses, managers and doctors don’t take better precaution to keep from getting others sick, instead of worring about who has on a mask, who isn’t wearing it properly, etc. Further more, I have seen people almost die from the flu shot…Why would I want that in my body? No thanks…I am curious to see how long the “law” drags this “mask” thing out…There should be a law against people who harrass you about wearing the mask…

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  7. Lou says:

    Should we ALL become slaves of the state and its pal BIG Vaccine INC?

    If you take a little time to explore the flu evidence you may come to these conclusions on “the flu”.

    The bottom line on the “Seasonal Flu” is you do NOT want protection from ONLY the seasonal flu virus. You want protection from ALL VIRAL infection. The “Seasonal Flu” is a minor, UNKNOWABLE apriori, subset of VIRAL INFECTION.

    Vitamins D and C, in ADEQUATE AMOUNTS will protect you from ALL VIRAL INFECTIONS.

    It is just this simple and difficult.

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