A bill introduced in the state Legislature would permit more health care workers in Wisconsin to refuse flu shots.
Some hospitals, nursing homes and clinics require workers to receive the flu shots. A lawmaker wants them to be able to refuse a flu shot for personal reasons.
State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, calls it a matter of personal freedom for health care workers to forego a flu shot. The Wisconsin Hospital Association opposes the bill. Steven Rush, of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, said it's a public health issue.
"In Wisconsin last year, 3,000 individuals were hospitalized due to influenza," said Rush. "Four hundred of those were so sick they had to be in ICUs. Especially at risk are the populations that are most vulnerable: elderly, children and those who are immune-compromised"
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Rush said hospitals use a variety of approaches to encourage flu shots, sometimes requiring them. He said last year, 93 percent of hospital workers got the flu shot.
Thiesfeldt said workers shouldn't fear demotion or dismissal if they refuse to get a flu shot required by their employer.
Wisconsin law doesn't require flu shots for health care workers; only a handful of states do.
This bill seeks to limit mandatory flu shots for health care workers. A previous bill authored by Thiesfeldt sought to outlaw workplace flu requirements.