Company fires about 50 workers for refusing to get flu shot

Health officials across the United States are still urging people to get their flu vaccines as the virus continues to spread in 40 states and Puerto Rico and has been associated with 15 pediatric deaths, seven of them reported in the week ending January 28.

DULUTH, Minn. — A Minnesota-based health system has fired about 50 employees who refused to get a flu shot.

Essentia Health announced last month that employees would be required to get vaccinated for influenza unless they received a religious or medical exemption.

The company said it wanted to help keep patients from getting sick at its 15 hospitals and 75 clinics in Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Essentia says 99 percent of the company’s 13,900 eligible employees had gotten the shot, received an exemption or were getting an exemption by the Monday deadline.

The United Steelworkers filed an injunction to try to delay the policy, but a federal judge denied the request. Minnesota Public Radio reports at least two other unions are filing grievances on behalf of workers who lost their jobs.