Flu shots aren't optional for some

Flu season is right around the corner and a growing number of healthcare providers are telling employees a flu shot isn't optional.

As of July 1, 2011 SSM Health Care adopted a new policy mandating their employees to get vaccinated.

The healthcare giant employs 30-thousand people in multiple states like Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and here in Missouri.

And now SSM employees are being told to roll up their sleeves or else.

We checked with the state and found out its certainly acceptable if an employer wants to require their staff to get a flu shot or an immunization

"Missouri is an employment at will state, which means the employer can change the conditions of the job or an employment at any time, as long as it's not discriminatory, Missouri Department of Labor Director of Communications Amy Susan said. So it doesn't discriminate or violate someone's human rights."

But some workers disagreed and said the new policy infringes on their rights.

"My concern is just my individual rights as being able to choose or not choose to get the vaccine, a St. Mary TMs employee who wanted to stay anonymous said. I just feel like I should have the right to make that decision myself. I am totally for the health of the patient and definitely do everything to prevent the spread of any kind of disease however, I still think it comes down to individual rights that I should be able to choose and still keep my job.

The only exceptions to the new policy are for individuals who refuse vaccines for medical or religious reasons.

And those people will have to wear a mask during flu season which is typically October to May.

But we wanted to find out what happens if you just simply don't want to get the shot.

"Our vaccination policy, if they are not vaccinated by December 1 they have an additional 45 days to either turn in a waiver or get the vaccination and if not they have to abide by any policy we have at St. Mary's and if they choose not to then we just have to follow protocol, St. Mary TMs director of human resources Katie Winkler said. "They could potentially be terminated for not following and not complying with the policy.

And the state said that's completely fine.

"They can terminate someone certainly if they don't adhere to their new conditions, Susan said. Because it's an employment at will state, they can hire or fire anyone as long as it's not discriminatory."

Like in previous years, the shot is free for all of SSM's employees and volunteers.

Winkler told me last year nearly 90% of St. Mary's employees got the shot voluntarily.

SSM said the policy was put into place to create a safer environment for patients and a healthier work force.