Eight nurses who were fired by their hospital-employer for refusing flu vaccines got national attention earlier this year when ABC News reported on the event. This brought much needed national attention to a trend rapidly sweeping the nation, that of hospitals requiring their employees to get flu shots or lose their jobs. A large percentage of healthcare workers object to the new policy, but most are getting the shot because they can't afford to lose their jobs and are not aware of laws that could help them avoid the shot, or because they are afraid they'll be fired just for asking for an exemption. We applaud ABC News for bringing national attention to this matter.
However, the article's author misquoted me (a leading vaccine rights attorney) in a way that could put healthcare workers unnecessarily at risk if they rely on this article. Specifically, the article quoted me as saying: "Religion is legally broad under the First Amendment, so it could include any strongly held belief . . . the belief [that] flu shots are bad should suffice." This is not true, and not what I said. First Amendment protections do NOT extend to "any strongly held belief," they extend only to beliefs that are "religious in nature" as the law defines that phrase, and that are also sincerely held. As for the legal meaning of "religious in nature," it takes a consultation to explain and explore that matter with clients individually so that they can put together a legally sound statement of religious beliefs opposed to immunizations that works for them and their particular situation. Rights vary according to the specific situation and circumstances, and to the laws of the relevant jurisdiction(s).