Chicago nurse protests mandatory flu vaccine policy

Chicago nurse protests mandatory flu vaccine policy
Marek Piszczatowski

As the flu outbreak spreads across the country, many are getting flu shots to help combat the virus. Numerous hospitals require their nurses to get the vaccine and those who refuse could face termination. A nurse in Chicago who says it's wrong he has to make that choice.

It's estimated that roughly half of all Americans get the flu shot. Nurse Marek Piszczatowski says it's a good idea.

"I don't have any problem with vaccinations. I had them as a child," he said.

What he considers a bad idea is the mandate that employees of the Cook County Health System, where he works, must get a flu shot.

"You're practically being blackmailed. You either comply with that or you get fired," he argued.

After getting the notice, he still refused. Then came another letter. This week he and a union representative went to a hearing that could result in the loss of his job.

"Constitutional rights; I should be able to choose," said Piszczatowski.

Marek Piszczatowski is not alone. Across the country, health care workers, with nurses in the lead, are mobilizing against mandatory flu vaccinations. Some, who've already lost their jobs, have filed suit.

Whether or not employers can mandate flu vaccination is a question now being answered in the courts. But even in health care settings, there are usually religious and medical exemptions, and some hospitals say if you're not vaccinated, you have to wear a mask.

In a statement, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System says to knowingly put "patients and coworkers at risk when we know that risk can be reduced by a safe, effective vaccine is irresponsible.."

It says the mandatory flu vaccine policy "follows the recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."