Can Employers Require the Flu Shot? Many Do

4 in 5 healthcare workers receive the flu shot …

(Nick Castele, IdeaStream) Each flu season, many in the general public ignore doctors’ advice to be vaccinated against the latest strains of influenza.

RELATED: Flu Symptoms And Prevention: What You Need To Know

Government authorities have pushed heavily to make getting an annual flu shot the norm.

But many healthcare workers don’t have the option to forego the flu shot. The Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Medical Center and University Hospitals all require workers to be vaccinated.

“We have an obligation to not harm our patients,” Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan, MetroHealth’s medical director for infection prevention, said.

“The reason the flu shot is important is that a lot of people end up sick in the hospital and actually end up dying from influenza.”

Flu and pneumonia were the eighth leading cause of death in Ohio in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ohio ranked 19th in the country for flu and pneumonia mortality that year.

In a recent CDC online survey, about 42 percent of healthcare workers said their employer required the shot during last year’s flu season.

Nearly all of those workers, or 98 percent, said they received the vaccination. Overall, the share of healthcare workers who report receiving flu shots has risen from 64 percent in 2010 to 79 percent last year.

Dr. Steven Gordon, the chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s department of infectious diseases, said healthcare providers can do three things to ensure more employees receive the vaccine.

“One, provide the vaccine on site. Two is provide it for free. And three is actually have employee mandates,” Gordon said.

“I understand as Americans we don’t like to have anything mandated, but there is evidence base behind that.”

READ THE FULL STORY AT IDEASTREAM. Also of interest: How To Tell If It’s The Flu Or A Cold (and why it matters)