Former Ohio nurse says it's 'injustice' to fire her over not getting flu shot

CINCINNATI -- A former Ohio nurse with the Christ Hospital Health Network said she was fired last month for refusing a flu vaccine.

Michelle Krinsky said she did not feel comfortable getting the vaccine because its ingredients and effectiveness concerned her.

But Christ Hospital mandates the shot, so Krinksy, who worked with babies at the hospital for decades, lost her job.

"It's an injustice what they're doing to healthcare workers with no sound evidence behind it," Krinksy said. "And I think you have to speak out, stand your ground and make other nurses feel they can as well."

This story isn't unique to Christ Hospital; St. Elizabeth Healthcare said on Wednesday they terminated one of their employees for refusing the vaccine.

Tonda Francis, vice president of Regional Coordination and Clinical Initiatives at the Health Collaborative, said the rate of employees who are terminated for refusing flu shots is low.

The immunization rate for health care employees is about 90 percent, Francis said, and hospitals require vaccines so patients are protected against the flu.

Last year's vaccine was 42 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that number has been significantly lower in other years.

Lisa Smith said she thinks everyone should think critically about the vaccine before they roll up a sleeve.

Smith said she suffered temporary paralysis after getting the shot. The CDC says this is side effect is rare, but a court found Smith was entitled to compensation.

She said her experience is the reason she supports Ohio House Bill 193. If passed, the legislation would protect healthcare professionals from being fired for refusing a flu shot.  

"Because there is a risk, there should be a choice," Smith said.  

The CDC recommends the vaccination for everyone six months old and older because there are thousands of flu-related deaths each year.

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