Can employers require employees to get flu shots?

A recent AJC article indicated that the topic of flu shots in the workplace has become a popular topic of discussion at Atlanta law offices. That’s because employers are seeking legal advice about whether or not they can mandate their staff members to obtain flu shots, as the threat of swine flu looms this fall and winter.

Costco wholesale club at Cumberland Mall offerd flu shots today provided by the Atlanta branch Maxim Health Systems. Smyrna resident Donna Watson reacts as Carolyn Kimbrough, LPN, administers a flu shot. Todd R. McQueen, for the AJC.

Smyrna resident Donna Watson reacts as Carolyn Kimbrough, LPN, administers a flu shot. Todd R. McQueen, for the AJC.

According to the article, since Georgia is a right-to-work state, employers can mandate their employees take the swine flu shot — with a few exceptions such as religious beliefs, union contracts and allergies to vaccines — as a condition of continued employment, said Doug H. Duerr, a partner at Elarbee Thompson, Sapp & Wilson in Atlanta.

So far, major employers in metro Atlanta are not considering making the swine flu vaccine mandatory. Instead, they are setting up on-site locations for their staff to receive the flu vaccine, if they choose to do so.

Should employers be allowed to mandate flu shots for their staff members? Would you get a flu shot if your employer asked?

118 comments Add your comment


October 5th, 2009
11:53 am

“Right to Work” ironically means Hire/Fire at will.


October 5th, 2009
11:59 am

Absolutely not! That is taking things too far.


October 5th, 2009
12:10 pm

I do believe that people out in the workforce should be required to get the shot since a lot of people are not respectful enough to stay home and sit it out. Why, get other’s sick and make them stay at home?

John Smith

October 5th, 2009
12:33 pm

While this might work for some easy to replace employee’s how well would things work out if you lost hard to replace employees over flu shots? While it seems like a good idea from the productivity angle how about how much it will cost to replace highly skilled employees who could have another job in a week with a call to their recruiter? Its not a good idea to force anybody to do anything especially those who are running your enterprise.


October 5th, 2009
12:33 pm

I would love to see the look on the “faces” of every employer when the entire workforce of the United States failed to report for work on the day they mandated flu shots.

That would be a PANDEMIC !!!


October 5th, 2009
12:40 pm

Enter your comments here I am a critical care nurse who has been required to have annnual TB test, all immunizations including hepatitis current, in order to protect me And the Patient. Do you really want a nurse who has the flu leaning over you? Do you want to get it from a patient? By the time there are symptoms one has already exposed others.


October 5th, 2009
12:48 pm

Absolutely not. Requiring that an employee put something into their body that they wouldn’t otherwise ingest/inject is invasive and beyond the realm of an employers jurisdiction. They’ve hired me to do a job for them, that does not mean they own my body.

If they want to enforce a policy that requires anyone with a fever to stay home, that’s fine.


October 5th, 2009
12:48 pm

I wonder what your feelings would be if your loved one was in the hospital and became infected with H1N1 or the seasonal flu by a nurse or other hospital worker who was not properly immunized. A person can be contagious for 24-48 hours PRIOR to the first symptom, so the nurse taking care of your child in the hospital can look healthy, feel healthy, but can still spread the flu. What would you say then?
Would you be worried about the nurse’s personal rights? Or public (your child’s) health then? What about all of the other children that nurse took care of that day?
I am a nurse who works in a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Premature babies, sick newborns who by definition are immunosupressed. I will GLADLY be getting both the seasonal flu shot tomorrow and the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it is available at my hospital. It IS mandated, but I would do it anyway. It is a question of public health. The H1N1 vaccine IS safe. It has been tested here in the US as well as in Europe. Both vaccines utilize DEAD viruses, so you do not get the flu from the flu shot. Both are available in mercury-free versions, if you request it. Squalene is NOT an ingredient in the US version of H1N1 vaccine. Get the facts, not rumors before you make up your mind.

Zaheerah Aleem

October 5th, 2009
12:56 pm

Enter your comments here
No! There should be no mandating of the H1N1 shot. There have been negative results from this shot and the companies making the drug are held harmless of any damages incurring to victims of the shot.


October 5th, 2009
1:11 pm

chalk up – yet another Hell no. If my company tries that – they can have a good time replacing my ass. :-)


October 5th, 2009
1:13 pm


Tony Castelluci

October 5th, 2009
1:28 pm

The fact that everyone said “NO”, makes me realize that people are starting to wake up.

There is a revolution of mind going on in this country. I’m very happy to be part of the wake up call. Also very happy to call myself an American alongside this folks! Pretty damn awesome!

Now we have to all band together and demand the Federal Reserve become, well…Federalized! The central banking cartels that run our paper money have ripped us off for far too long.

Dr K

October 5th, 2009
1:31 pm

No, no and no…forcing people to get a shot that hasn’t proven to be effective isn’t the answer


October 5th, 2009
1:34 pm

Yes. I think everyone should get a flu shot.


October 5th, 2009
1:35 pm

Yes. I think everyone shoud get a flu shot.

Alissa Smith

October 5th, 2009
1:40 pm

I know we lost the right to free speech, I know we lost the right to due process. How many more rights are we willing to just give up before something is done? We do not get preventative medicine/alternative medicine costs paid for by the companies we work for, or by the government. Yet, they want to force something the “prevents” (and NO IT DOESN’T PREVENT YOU FROM GETTING THE WHATEVER IT IS THEY’RE TRYING TO PEDDLE, IN FACT IT MAKES YOU SUSCEPTIBLE TO IT!!!) a new disease they come up with?
Swine flu, bird flu, mosquito flu, next we’ll have boar flu and kamikaze flu!


Mandate people working out! Mandate ORGANIC food growth and production! Mandate CLEAN AIR! MANDATE a stop in GLOBAL WARMING! Mandate things that strengthen our immune system, not jeopardize it! But hey, WHERE’S THE PROFIT IN THAT, RIGHT?


And for those of you that have already drank the cool-aid, OPEN UP YOUR EYES! LOOK AROUND YOU! SEE THE STATE OF AFFAIRS WE AS A PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY IN!

If you want to take the darn shot, MOVE TO MASSACHUSETTS and vote for this new law they’re trying to pass! In this law, the Governor has the right (or soon will have) to indeed mandate/force you to take the shot. If you refuse, you could be fined up to $10,000 & 5 years in prison! Yeah! We live in a free country!

God save us all!


October 5th, 2009
1:46 pm

Paul, apparently you don’t know what’s in the H1N1 immunization either, or you’d state it, and you wouldn’t be so frightened.

For those who don’t want thimerisol (the mercury-based preservative) in their flu shots (H1N1 or seasonal), they can request either a single-dose vial which is preservative-free, or the flu mist which is administered as a nasal spray. However, the flu mist is a LIVE, attenuated (meaning weakened) version of the flu (seasonal or H1N1) virus, so there are risks involved with that. If you are around someone who is immunocompromised, you should not get the flu mist, because the live virus can be “shed” from your nose when you sneeze or cough, and there is a small risk that you can actually get the flu from the flu mist (unlike the flu shots).
Squalene is an adjuvant which is approved for use in Europe. It is NOT approved by the FDA and therefore NOT in the H1N1 vaccine here. Adjuvants are materials which help boost the effectiveness of a vaccine, but at this time there is none being used in H1N1.


October 5th, 2009
1:52 pm

I believe that it is each persons right to decide if they want to get the flu shot or not. I don’t believe a company has the right to force anything on an employee that may endanger their lives. Although, they are paying your bills at this point and yes, you are enslaved to them for a specific amount of time during the day. If you don’t want to be forced by corporate america to do things then start your own business and run it how you like. No one says, we HAVE to work for someone else. We live in a free country, it is our government that educates us in our government run schools, that we are programmed to go to College, get a “good job” (Where does that exist?), and you will be set. Apparently all of the same unemployed people in today’s economy is looking for that “good job”. Jobs are great as a temporary means or if you like to stay employed and don’t have the desire to work for someone else. REGARDLESS, we should never be FORCED to ever inject our bodies with a vaccine. I had the flu once 10 years ago, and that was only a couple months, after I had open heart surgery and my immune system was down. I revived and am still alive 10 years later.

If you don’t want to catch the flu take your vitamins, like Nutrilite Supplements, DoubleX – (I get mine at) jwaller.qhealthbeauty . com and other supplements that has Vitamin C & D in it, to keep your immune system healthy during the winter months.


October 5th, 2009
2:00 pm

You’re delusional if you think the H1N1 vaccine doesn’t contain Squalene. Google it Melissa, it’s in the vaccine, but if you still don’t believe Squalene is in the vaccine, go ahead and take the vaccine, take a chance on getting ‘Gulf War Syndrome’. Do you think our precious government isn’t willing to give their own people Squalene? Look at the soldiers from the Gulf War, look at all the unapproved injections they were forced to take. Go ahead Melissa, take the vaccine, trust your government and believe everything they tell you.


October 5th, 2009
2:03 pm

@ Chris. LOL. :-) You are so right about that.


October 5th, 2009
2:04 pm

No, I think if employers start mandating vaccines, then they have crossed the line. I definitely would not take a vaccine. If I have had the flu, i would not know because I treat it like I treat a cold, drink plenty of fluids and stay home so you dont infect anyone else. I agree with other people, if I get sick or worse, die from the vaccine, can I sue you.? I know the answer is no, so why risk my life.

Bishop Anderson

October 5th, 2009
2:17 pm

Whether an employer can legally force an employee to take a flu shot, and prevail in a law suit if they fire a non complying employee, it is clear that the benefit to an office is primarily to the employee who takes the shot. If all but one take the shot, the one who doesn’t, and gets sick, isn’t going to infect those who did take the shot. However if the employer requires the employee to take the shot as a condition of continued employment, and the employee has a negative reaction or catastrophic reaction to the shot, which can very rarely happen, the employer would be subject to a law suit by the employee. Whether they would prevail or not would depend on the court.


October 5th, 2009
2:34 pm

The AJC trial-balloon question was Can. . .? Okay, perhaps employers, under some obscure law, require employees to sacrifice their health (although is the vaccine approved by OSHA?), but the question might be rephrased in two parts to be more telling:

1) Should employers be allowed to require. . . and 2) If an employer requires. . . will you submit?

So I’ll answer my questions:
1) NO! The last I heard we were a democracy and a republic. We are not yet the United Socialist States of America–let’s not push it.
2) If I had an employer, I wouldn’t submit.

May The Lord Y’shuaJesus have mercy upon this once-free and reasonable nation.



October 5th, 2009
2:41 pm

First issue: Georgia is a RTW state, To remain such, there are compromises to be made. One of those choices is to allow private employers to do anything legal as a requirement of employment. Unless you have a contract which explicitly excludes the ‘and other duties as assigned’ included in almost all regular level, non executive positions, you then make the choice to do as they will or resign. You have to face reality of life without unions. Business loves it. Employees don’t always.

Second issue: Sick leave, Health insurance, employment reviews: Absences are counted against you at most businesses. Sick leave is meaningless at others. Do you go to work sick and spread your contagion or do you do the right thing, stay home and use some sick leave if you have it?

Final Issue: If I had a business where my workers were in constant contact with the public or in a largely populated work environment, I would STRONGLY encourage them to be up to date on their life saving immunizations including flu vaccines. The risks are smaller with all immunizations than with full blown disease. The consequences of disease involve a greater scope than one person’s body. We do have to think of the common good at times.


October 5th, 2009
2:43 pm

Hell No!!! Thousands die every year from regular flu and the flu shot is not required for the regular flu. There have not been thousands dying of the swine flew the whole thing is a scare tactic makes you wonder what’s in this untested vaccine that someone wants us to make so bad to make it mandatory. Welcome to 1984 the Facist state run government is upon us google Alex jones and know the truth

Charlton Allen

October 5th, 2009
3:20 pm

I am an employer and would not mandate such a policy. I would not want an employee to report to work with the flu either. If absenteeism becomes an issue due to flu, then I would handle it on a case by case basis.


October 5th, 2009
3:21 pm

A little more information for everyone:

The U.S. government has contracts with several drug companies to develop and produce swine flu vaccines. At least two of those companies, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline, are using an adjuvant in their H1N1 vaccines.

The adjuvant? Squalene.

Squalene (MF-59), an ingredient in the H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine has been shown to cause severe autoimmune disorders such as MS, rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus. This is the vaccine adjuvant that is strongly linked to the Gulf War syndrome, which killed over 10,000 soldiers and caused a 200% increase in the fatal disease ALS (Lou Gehreg disease).


October 5th, 2009
3:29 pm

There is some interesting information on how to tackle the flu on this blog Check it out. Some Natural ways – which doesn’t have all the horrible chemicals, mercury and latex drugs that our body doesn’t know how to naturally handle.


October 5th, 2009
4:42 pm

Enter your comments here Your work place should not require you to put any substance into your body but they should focus on sending someone home if they suspect that person has a bad cold or flu. A firm suggestion from a supervisor or human resouces person that an individual take a couple of days off to recoup from a bad cold or flu is not unreasonable.


October 5th, 2009
4:54 pm

Companies who care enough about the productivity and well being of employees to actually do whatever it takes to have a healthy workforce, are companies that individuals should want to work for. First, if your co-workers are not reporting to work sick with the flu, you will reduce your own chances of becoming sick and also passing the flu to your friends and family. Second, companies are wanting to retain productivity with a healthy workforce – there is nothing wrong with that as productivity is what earns companies money and in turn, provides jobs and benefits to employees.


October 5th, 2009
4:59 pm

@ VP, HR. How dare us want to care more about our health than your revenue. Shame on us!


October 5th, 2009
5:38 pm

Having said all of that, does anyone actually knows what can someone do if she is being forced out of work because she refused the flu vaccine?


October 5th, 2009
6:24 pm

Enter your comments here No one should be forced into taking the swine flu shot. Do a little research on the adjuvant “squalene” and it just may scare you to death before the swine flu gets you.


October 5th, 2009
7:40 pm

This has become a scary DON’T VACCINATE blog. How about reading the question?
No, unless you are a health care or child care worker, it should not be required of an employer…What about our military employees? They are immunized for our country’s safety and for their own. Adverse events that are long lasting are rare considering the amount of vaccines administered and the millions of servicepeople immunized.

Growing up, I actually suffered through measles (three different kinds), chicken pox, mumps and other diseases for which vaccines are available today. So many children and others died then as compared to now although our population has increased. The two persons in my large family who died from flu were young and healthy. I gladly have had all of my children and grandchildren immunized and all are up to date with yearly boosters when necessary and flu shots when needed. In the case of all current immunizations, the percentage of those who have had adverse events is tiny compared to those who have had terribly adverse reactions to simple Tylenol and Tylenol based drugs yet we still use them because that is still a small percentage of users.

The scare mongers are out there. But please put it in perspective.

Lisa White

October 5th, 2009
8:09 pm

Wow, where are we living? What is happening to personal liberties and responsibilities? The flu shot does not prevent the flu. Let’s just start there. Healthy people should not be required to receive the flue shot as a conditon of employment. Flu shots are for immune compromised individuals – not normal healthy folks.
It’s a money thing people!


October 5th, 2009
8:15 pm

As people say Georgia is a right to work state. But does that allow employers to dictate what you do with your personal life? The choice of taking or not taking the flu shot is a personal one and even though you work for some one that does not give them the right to make choices for you. You let them make this one and soon they will be making all of your choices. Such as whom you can date, what car you should drive, who you can marry etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. If that is what you want go ahead and allow the work place to dictate your personal choices to you. Me I will make my own decisions thank you.


October 5th, 2009
9:22 pm

Absolutely not! But I would also add to all the other adults who’ve answered no, why is it ok for the government to force parents to vaccinate their children? Same diff, folks! Inadequate or compromised testing, toxic chemicals, aborted fetal tissue, limited immunity and effectiveness, side effects… These are all reasons why I don’t vaccinate myself and why it galls me that I’ve had to do it to my children.


October 5th, 2009
9:56 pm

IMO the “hell no” commenters are ignorant and short-sighted at best and downright dangerous at worst. It appears that they haven’t bothered to read the or web sites, but instead are rehashing wildly inaccurate urban legends to support their refusal to be vaccinated. I got the swine flu shot in 1976 (with no side effects), and the same type of people reacted exactly the same way. Some things never change.

I plan on getting both vaccines to protect myself and those around me. If you are a “hell no” type who won’t get vaccinated, please let me know where you work – or will be looking for work — so I can avoid those places.

For the most current information about both flu vaccines, please read the CDC’s October 1, 2009 bulletin at


October 5th, 2009
10:15 pm

IMO the “hell no” commenters are being ignorant and short-sighted at best and downright dangerous to society at worst. It appears that they haven’t bothered to read the, or web sites to get the facts on swine flu, but instead choose to rehash inaccurate urban legends about the vaccine to support their stance. The same type of people reacted the same way in 1976, when I got a required swine flu shot (no side effects) along with most other Americans. Some things never change.

I plan on getting both vaccines this year to protect myself and everyone around me. If you are a “hell no” type, please let me know where you work – or will be looking for work — so I can avoid you.

For the most updated information about both flu vaccines, please read the CDC’s October 1, 2009 bulletin at


October 5th, 2009
11:07 pm

I work in the medical field as a Medical Assistant in a doctor’s office. I have never had the flu shot (before working at the doctor’s office and even while working at the doctor’s office), and I have never gotten the flu. The flu shot itself has the dead virus, everyone carries all of the viruses and diseases inside of us, it just takes something to trigger it to come out. My employer told me that I need to get the vaccine for the flu and I refused. They want me to get the Swine Flu Vaccine, I will continue to refuse. If we all think back to 1975 and how many people got a lifetime problem of Bells Palsy from the Swine Flu Vaccine back then, who knows what you will get with this one. As the old saying goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!!!! If I have been immune through confirmed cases that have come into our office already, I may already have immunity to it – why inject myself and get sick???? Couldn’t be me!!!


October 6th, 2009
1:50 am

If your work place would be at risk (healthcare,work with children/college students),employees should get vaccinated. What is wrong with keeping a healthy workplace. Fear and lack of understanding is creating a negative attitude. If employees are unsure of the swine flu vaccine they should at least get the annual flu vaccine to boost their immunity. I was in the military in 1976 when the swine flu vaccine was required to prove it was safe. I had a very sore arm but otherwise I was fine. I am sure the vaccine process has improved in 33 years. Think about what would happen if the illness spread rapidly and many were sick. They economy is depressed enough. A mass flu outbreak would keep everyone home, no one to shop or work or keep operations moving.


October 6th, 2009
6:27 am

Since it is a VIOLATION of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, NO, employers should not be able to force an employee to take a vaccination of any kind, health care worker or NOT. The CDC is controlled by board members that have financial interests in the pharmaceutical companies. HellO! Search for and download the affidavit (it’s online, don’t have time to post link here) that tells your employer you will not have your rights violated, even if you have to say it’s for religious reasons and you have no religion. I waved it in front of my boss’s face concerning the TB test (another farce!! Don’t fall for it!) and they never mentioned it again. As for Bajeha and Sue, right above me here, READ, people. Read. Research. Educate yourself. It’s a LIE. You do not know what you are talking about, so please go get some real information and stop believing what the so-called “authorities” tell you. Be your own authority and STOP letting others run your life. Don’t be the sheep they want you to be.

Not only NO, but HELL, NO. Not ever. Because I’m smarter than they want me to be.


October 6th, 2009
6:42 am

No one should be forced to get the vaccine of course, but let’s stop with the conspiracy theories please. No one is trying to control you in this case. When they say “you only have your health”, that’s very true. Have people gotten sick from the vaccine? Yes, your body’s immune system is built up as a result which is essential. People who are allergic to eggs and chicken shouldn’t take it, it’s common sense.

As for the mercury, there are very very trace amounts of mercury or whatever preservative they use. And you know what? If you’re still too scared to get injected, the vaccine is offered in a nasal mist and there’s no mercury! My nephews had this done a couple of weeks ago

I had the injection a couple of weeks ago. I’m fine. I didn’t get sick after and I haven’t gotten sick since. This will be the end result for 99% of the people who get vaccinated.

You want to get mad at the big corporate world? Have at it. But by “refusing” to get vaccinated you’re not striking back at anyone. Enjoy your freedom, and “don’t cough on me”.


October 6th, 2009
8:47 am

I agree that no one should be able to force you to take any kind of medicine, but this is a “right to work state” and they can legally let you go with no recourse. The economy is in very bad shape as we all know so I wouldn’t rock the boat at work right now. Pick and choose your battles very carefully or you could be collecting unemployment along with many other Americans. I believe we have rights but there is a time and place for everything. The holidays are coming closer and it will be a cold winter, especially if you are not working!


October 6th, 2009
9:31 am

no this flu was made by the government. This will be the reason this Left WING GOVERNMENT, turns our country over to an international body to be ruled. Not by Americans but by a FEW Elite and rich people. Americans beware it’s happening they are trying to end the United States of America


October 6th, 2009
9:43 am

Today it’s H1N1, tomorrow? Sure you don’t have to take it, but you LOSE YOUR JOB if you don’t? What a choice.I’m glad some are so relaxed about this, you give these folks an inch and they will take a mile. What’s next? Will folks have to take birth control, so companies won’t have to pay for pregnacy. Oh wait, Obama care will take care of all that. “Stop with the conspiracy theories”, …you’re right, I guess it’s not really a consipriacy theory if it’s not really being hidden…lol.
Check out the movie Gattaca, is it the extreme version of this. Yes, but is it not the path this country is on?


October 6th, 2009
10:34 am

Wow. I can’t believe that so many people can be so ignorant about such a simple subject. I work for the government and can assure you that: (1) No, we did not create the flu virus. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Every year, a new variant of the flu virus develops within the pig or fowl population and is passed to humans. This usually happens someplace in Asia and then it spreads around the world. (2) The vaccine is not poison. We are not in cahoots with the drug companies, trying to make money by injecting unsuspecting citizens with something that will harm them. In fact, the flu vaccine is free this year. That’s right. The government is footing the bill to keep American healthy this flu season. (3) The H1N1 vaccine does not contain avian flu, swine flu, and seasonal flu all in one dose. That would be great if we could get them all into one shot, but it’s just not the case. In fact, the avian flu vaccine is not yet available to the public.
The CDC has some great information about the flu, both H1N1 and seasonal. I encourage the paranoid masses to read up a little bit before they go spreading rumors.


October 6th, 2009
10:59 am

No one should be forced into medical care that is not of their choosing and I would refuse. However, for all the people that are speaking of rights being taken away, Remember the people in this country that currently do not have all of the rights you do… the rights that are refused others could just as easily be refused you. Rights in this country are a matter of convenience. Thank you right wing republicans!


October 6th, 2009
11:04 am

PublicHealthProfessional….the issue here is that employers are forcing employees to take something into their bodies that they don’t want. Thanks for the flu lesson, but you seemed to stepped right around the main point. For people who would like it great, but employers shouldn’t have the ablitity to “force” it on the “paranoid masses” with an ultimatum of losing their jobs.
Now on the other hand, you do have to get your children vaccinated in order to get them into pulbic schools, so in a sense, this is nothing new. Though they are still researching the relationship between these vaccination and illness contibuted to it later on in life.
I don’t believe people have faith in this rushed solution, and certainly not in a employer dictating your medical needs.


October 6th, 2009
11:11 am