Phoebe soon to require flu shots - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe soon to require flu shots

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Flu season is here and flu shots are widely available.

And those shots will eventually become mandatory for employees at an Albany hospital.

Phoebe Putney held its Employee Flu Shot Kick-off Tuesday to encourage Phoebe employees to take the lead in combating the virus.

Phoebe Putney Hospital is pushing all their employees to get a flu shot to protect themselves, their families and patients.

Hundreds of Phoebe employees lined up to get their flu shots.

"This year every employee of Phoebe Putney health system will be required to go through the process, every employee will be encouraged to get the shot but every employee will also have the opportunity to opt out," says Doug Patten, Medical Affairs Senior Vice President.

This year is part of a 3 year plan, eventually all Phoebe employees will be required to get the flu shot, unless they have a medical reason for not being able to.

"Change in culture takes time and we have had good compliance in the past, last year the completely voluntary program, 82% of our employees participated and over 64% of our employees took the vaccination, this year with 100% participation, I am predicting that we will have 85, 90% success rate with the vaccination itself," says Patten.

Within an hour, about 300 employees had already received their shots.

"Work with patients who their immune system has been compromised, so every year we get our flu shots," says Guy Eason, Linear Engineer.

And even employees who do not treat patients lined up for their vaccination.

"Some of us would not go get the shot if it was not for the hospital requiring it so I think it is a fantastic thing that we have going on," says Calvin Moore, Phoebe Security Officer.

The people who usually opt out of the shot are worried about getting the flu from the vaccine.

"I think a lot of people still believe the old myths that you can get the flu from the flu shot, which is not true, the flu shot that we give is called a dead virus, it is not a live virus," says Beth Conners, Employee Health Manager.

And another popular reason for not wanting the vaccine is the fear of needles, but Conners says most people don't even feel it.

Doug Patten says he's not concerned about any liability in requiring employees to get the shots.

He says he is confident that it is safe and the benefit outweighs the minimal risks.

Phoebe Putney has already seen at least 2 cases of the flu.

They will be offering flu shots in all their locations through November 15th.

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