For nearly a week, Karen McKinnon has stood up for her rights. She protested the flu shot mandated by her employer, Waterbury Hospital. In the end, however, it was the paycheck that changed her mind. McKinnon walked back into work today with dread and regret to get a vaccination she did not want.
“I’m doing this against my will and in protest, but I’m doing it so I can keep my job,” McKinnon told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters in an exclusive interview.
“It’s a two-income household and one income isn’t going to support us. So I have to return to work,” she said.
NBC Connecticut first met McKinnon last week after she was put on an unpaid two-week suspension from her job as a surgical assistant. The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters examined her rights.
“I feel like they’re forcing me to do something against my will in order to maintain my job,” McKinnon said.
McKinnon pored over documents at home for days trying to figure out an alternative to the shot, but there was not one. Waterbury Hospital maintained that getting the vaccine was the only way to return to her job.
“Our number one goal here is patient safety,” Dr. Steve Aronin, head of infectious diseases at Waterbury Hospital, told NBC Connecticut. “We really feel the flu shot, good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, all the basic things that you do are really mandatory as healthcare workers to take care of patients.”
McKinnon has not received a vaccine in 18 years, when she last received a flu vaccination and reacted poorly. She is nervous about how her body will react this time.
“I’m very concerned about that. That was my biggest reason for not taking it is because possible dangerous reactions,” she said Friday morning.
Aside from the salary she needs, McKinnon said she is giving up her cause so she can continue serving those who need her most.
“[I’m also doing this] to protect the patients,” she said.