No flu shot, no job

PHILADELPHIA. After years working at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, both Tyrika and Gary Cowlay couldn’t believe it last month when they were suspended without pay and it had nothing to do with their job performance.

Their offense? Both refused to get a seasonal flu shot.

Now, after two weeks and still refusing based on what Tyrika says are “spiritual and religious” reasons, the two have been told by CHOP that they will be fired Friday along with several other employees who don’t want the vaccine.

“They banked on us wanting our jobs instead of standing up for our rights,” said Gary Cowlay, who has worked more than eight years as an environmental services worker at the children’s hospital.

The union for some of the workers expected to lose their jobs Friday said they are taking the case before an arbitrator but do not have a date set yet. “We certainly don’t agree with it being mandatory and also that its mandatory that someone will be fired if they don’t get it,” Local 1199c official Gary McCormack said.

CHOP spokeswoman Peggy Flynn said this is the first year for the policy and that only nine of the hospital’s 9,400 workers who were not exempted for religious reasons have refused to be vaccinated.

“Receiving flu vaccine is a critical way to contribute to a safer environment,” Flynn said.

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