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RI hospital employees ordered to get flu shots or wear masks

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Flu season is in full swing and hospitals in Rhode Island have established vaccination rules for employees.

Spokesperson for Lifespan Christina O’Reilly said all employees are required to annually receive their flu vaccinations, and if they choose not to, they must wear a mask while working throughout the entirety of flu season.

Similar rules are in effect at Southcoast Health hospitals, according to Spokesman Shawn Badgley.

Badgley said all employees had until November 4 to receive their flu shots. If they choose to opt-out, they must also wear a mask while treating patients.

Care New England employees could face suspension if they don’t comply with their rules, according to Spokesman Jim Beardsworth.

“As a leading health care provider, it is important that we lead by example,” Beardsworth said. “While we realize there may be some limiting factors for a few, those individuals are permitted to wear a mask during flu season.”

Suspension is not uncommon among healthcare professionals who don’t comply with vaccination protocols. A new policy at Albany Medical Center in New York led to some nurses being suspended for not getting vaccinated.

So far this flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported two deaths — both children — from flu-related illnesses. Connecticut also recently reported its first two flu-related deaths. Both victims were over the age of 65.

The CDC reports that flu season begins to ramp up by November and usually peaks by January — that’s why it’s important to get vaccinated by the end of October.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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