September 28, 2009

Flu update: Vaccines, university sick-leave policies

This year’s flu season arrives in two guises: the seasonal and H1N1 varieties. In an e-mail last week regarding their status at Johns Hopkins, Charlene Hayes, vice president for human resources, reminded faculty and staff that the university has already begun vaccinating employees against seasonal flu. “Public health officials say it is still important to get this protection, since seasonal flu likely will surface more frequently as the weather turns cold,” she said.

Announcements about vaccination sessions are being made at individual campuses, and information is also available at

Regarding the just-approved H1N1 vaccine, Hayes said it would be offered to employees as soon as it becomes available to the university, probably late this year and in relatively small allotments at first, and that the vaccination sessions will be publicized widely. The university, she said, will follow national and state guidelines about giving the vaccine first to certain priority or at-risk groups, such as patient-care staff, pregnant women and people with certain chronic diseases.

Normal sick and vacation utilization policies apply to any absence due to H1N1, Hayes said, and are as follows:

Employees unable to report to work as a result of personal or family illness are expected to cover those absences with vacation or sick leave. Any employee without leave accrued will be allowed time off without pay.

Managers and supervisors are expected to be flexible with the use of work-at-home options, sick leave and vacation when employees must stay home with sick children or other family members. Absences related to an employee’s own H1N1 illness, or to the care of a family member with H1N1, will not count against the employee in areas where there are strict or no-fault attendance policies.

As is always the case, any employee who abuses sick leave by falsifying reasons for an absence may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Employees are reminded that if they develop flulike symptoms while at work, they may go to the Occupational Health offices at Wyman Park or East Baltimore, or call them at 410-516-0450 or 410-955-6211.