State lawmaker working to ban flu shot requirement

State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) is considering pushing forward with a bill which would stop employers from requiring flu shots.

Thiesfeldt said he knows hospitals and other healthcare systems are forcing employees to get the shot. He says if they don’t, then they risk suspension or losing their job.

Right now, his bill is still needs a public hearing before it can move forward. He says he’s meeting with the Wisconsin Hospital Association in hopes they will back off the policy which encourages hospitals to require doctors, nurses, and others to get flu shots.

Thiesfeldt said, “I’m not against the influenza vaccination, I will probably get it myself this year, I’ve had it in the past. But I don’t believe people should be medicated against their consent in order to maintain their employment.”

The Wisconsin Hospital Association is one of 21 hospitals and organizations to take an official stance against Thiesfeldt’s bill.

In a statement the organization’s Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice, Steven Rush, said, “WHA opposes AB 312 because it removes from hospitals an important tool used to prevent health care workers from spreading this serious and potentially-fatal disease to their patients. Influenza vaccines are the cornerstone of a comprehensive policy that hospitals need to properly meet their obligations to the public, as well as to their employees. WHA appreciates the dialogue we have had with Rep. Thiesfeldt on this bill.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services declined to comment on the story. A spokesperson cited a policy of not commenting on pending state legislation. However, DHS has a webpage dedicated to the merits of the flu shot, and a video aimed at healthcare workers stressing the importance of the shot.

Thiesfeldt said he will know by next week whether he will request a hearing on the bill. He had a similar bill last session which failed to pass.

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