SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) – Protesters stormed the sidewalk outside Mercy South hospital on Tuesday, unhappy with the hospital's vaccination policy employees against the flu.
Protesters say that at least one nurse was fired after her request for religious exemption was rejected.
Mercy Hospitals denies that employees were fired for refusing to be vaccinated.
Nearly two dozen protesters stood on the sidewalk, many holding placards. Many said that the same nurse had already been exempted when the facility was known as St. Anthony's Medical Center. Mercy acquired it in 2017.
"You have educated doctors and nurses who have requested these exemptions for Mercy and who have been forced to get vaccinated because their medical and religious exemptions have been denied," said demonstrator Nelia Aubuchon.
Mercy has issued the following statement on the situation:
The goal of our flu vaccination policy is simple: protection against the flu virus saves lives, especially those of our most vulnerable patients. Requiring health colleagues to be vaccinated against the flu is a best practice in the United States to ensure the safety of patients, colleagues and community members. Mercy revised her influenza vaccination policy several years ago and requires all Mercy colleagues to abide by this policy as a condition of employment.
Of the 44,000 Mercy employees, we received about 170 requests for exemption this year. The majority of these applications have been accepted to meet valid medical or religious exemption criteria. Colleagues whose waiver requests have not been accepted will be notified this week and, in accordance with our policy, will not be allowed to remain employed without receiving a vaccine. This is an important step in protecting our patients, visitors and colleagues.
Another hospital told News that 4 employees or volunteers dispensed with influenza vaccination are encouraged to wear a mask during the flu season.
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