About 50 employees of Essentia Health, an upper-Midwest hospital chain, didn’t go to work Wednesday. But it wasn’t an early start to the Thanksgiving holiday for them. They were fired for refusing to get flu shots. It’s part of a growing trend for hospitals to require flu shots for workers. Public health experts say it shouldn’t be surprising. “It’s a patient safety issue,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease

expert at Vanderbilt University and a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “It’s so that we do not give flu to our patients.” Hospital workers can pass the flu virus to some of the most vulnerable people — frail elderly, babies in incubators, patients with immune systems ravaged by cancer treatment. Vaccinating employees protects patients and the employees’ co-workers. READ MORE