Even though Ebola grabs all the headlines, it's the flu that still kills thousands of Americans each year. And in that shadow, a North Idaho public health entity is getting serious about immunization from the killer. In fact, Kootenai Health medical center is requiring its employees to be vaccinated.
"Get a flu shot or get a new job," reads this morning's headline in the Coeur d'Alene Press
, indicating the hospital's new mandatory vaccination policy.The rule only gives exception to someone who is allergic; otherwise all employees, vendors and doctors are required to get a shot.
"As health care providers, we are morally obligated to take precautions needed to prevent the spread of viruses like influenza," Kootenai Health spokeswoman Kim Anderson told the Press
But that doesn't mean everyone at the hospital agrees with the policy.
"I assume that Nov. 7 will be last day of work there," nurse Thomas Madison, who won't be getting vaccinated, told the Press
But an infectious disease specialist at Kootenai Health says any potential problems linked to the vaccine are far surpassed by the potential benefits.
"You cannot contract the flu from the vaccine. It's not possible because it is an inactivated virus," said Dr. David Souvenir. "I hear this all of the time, but it's not even a possibility."
In 2011, Boise Weekly
spent some time in North Idaho to chronicle the region's low rate of vaccination (BW, News, "Idaho's Epidemic of Fear," December 14, 2011
"This is stupid. There's absolutely no reason for these exemption rates," Dana Williams, Pend Oreille School District nurse told BW
. "We're going to end up with something bad happening here. People don't realize that a child can die from a bad case of chicken pox or the mumps."