'Tis the Season: Fighting the Flu in the Workplace

Submitted by Maggie Sims on Thu, 12/05/2019


It’s that time of the year - have you had your flu shot? A common inquiry for the season! It seems an innocent question. The vaccination helps protect from the dreaded flu virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends it every year. It's the best way to avoid the coughing, fever, body aches, and other consequences related to the illness. Including having to take time off from work!

Most people can choose whether to get the vaccine. There are many reasons why someone would choose not to. But some places of employment require staff to have the vaccination. A vaccination protects the worker, co-workers, and the public they work with. For some industries, such as healthcare, the vaccine is a condition of employment.

An employer can establish health and safety requirements for a job position. They must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. Even so, an employer must consider an accommodation for someone with a disability that would prevent them from getting the vaccine. As in any accommodation request, the employer and the employee should engage in an interactive process. This informal process should lead to a desirable outcome for everyone.

The Job Accommodation Network offers some possible alternate solutions:

  • Exempting an employee from an annual vaccination requirement
  • Allowing the use of an approved mask as an alternative to vaccination
  • Allowing the use of other types of personal protective equipment, such as a protective hood with face shield, suit, gloves, etc.
  • Temporarily assigning job duties that do not require direct patient care
  • Reassigning the employee to a vacant position or department that does not require vaccination

It's important for the employer and the employee to work together to find an effective and reasonable accommodation. This can be challenging, but there is help! The Job Accommodation Network is available to help find accommodations in the workplace for all situations.

In the meantime, check out some preventive measures from the CDC to help you avoid the flu. 

Have a happy and healthy holiday season!

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The Rocky Mountain ADA Center's blog, Access Granted, tackles ADA issues through unique and diverse perspectives. Articles are written by staff of RMADAC and a variety of special guest authors. Some may be educational, others might be personal or thought-provoking. Either way, Access Granted will bring you the ADA of today!

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