CENTRA Removes Employee Flu Vaccination Requirement, After Push Back

Lynchburg, VA - As of Friday, CENTRA removed their requirement, forcing every one of their more than 8,500 employees to receive the flu vaccination.

It was controversial, and stirred a lot of mixed emotions among employees. Some though, say this policy change is just too little, too late.

We spoke with one woman who wants to remain anonymous. She said for weeks, CENTRA scared employees into getting the vaccine, threatening them with docked pay, along with work suspension, even potentially firing them.

So now that they've removed the policy, many employees who originally did not want the vaccine, have gotten it, out of fear of losing their jobs.

In an email sent out on October 30th to all CENTRA employees, by the Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Matt Johnson, he explains, "For those employees, volunteers, and physicians who fail to comply with this requirement, effective December 1, 2012, these individuals will not be allowed to perform their duties until such time that they present required documentation of contradiction (religious or medical) or they are vaccinated. This suspension of duties will be without pay."

The email went on to explain, that situation would be a last resort.

Johnson, said the reasoning for all of this is that every employee, whether they work with patients or not, works in the healthcare system, and they can pass the flu onto others who would work with patients fairly easily.

He cited more than 200 hospitals nationwide that share similar policies.

"We did not want to fire people. We were hoping to appeal to their better angels, in that we were wanting to characterize this campaign as a patient safety issue. Not only patient safety, but also our work force community," he said.

Johnson said till Friday, 90% of CENTRA employees had complied, and received the vaccination.

Now that it's been removed, un-vaccinated workers must wear a mask through March 31st, to prevent flu transmission.