Officials at First Health Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst are warning their employees to get a flu shot or be fired.
"We do feel that we are seeing a peak now and we do feel it's earlier than we normally see that," said Dr. Paul Jawanda.
This year getting a flu shot is mandatory for all 4,000 First Health employees. The policy is simple. No shot, no job. That may sound drastic, but Jawanda said First Health is serious about keeping hospital employees and patients from spreading the infection.
"Most people look at the flu as being a minor illness," said Jawanda. "Very rarely for someone previously healthy, it can be more than a minor illness and certainly for people in the hospital, who are dealing with other illnesses, if they are exposed to the flu that can really be a problem."
First Health joins a growing number of medical systems including UNC-Health Systems and Moses Cone Hospitals that require employees to be vaccinated.
Other medical facilities like Cape Fear Valley Medical System, don't require the vaccinations, but strongly recommend workers get the flu shot. In previous years, Cape Fear Valley has held mass inoculation clinic for employees.
First health officials say about 85 to 90 percent of the workers in its health system have already taken the shot or agreed to get one before the Dec. 31 deadline. They say for that other small group of people who, for whatever reason won't or can't take the shot, they will be required to wear paper masks as long as they are on the job.
And a First Health spokesperson said only a few employees have indicated they would quit rather than take the flu shot.