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Should hospital employees be vaccinated?

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They're the people who treat us when we're sick or hurt. Now, a bill in the Indiana State Senate wants to make sure hospital employees stay healthy. The bill would require all hospital employees get vaccinated.

It's a policy some hospitals in our area already follow.

The state health department and the CDC set health guidelines for hospital workers, but each hospital sets their own employee immunization policy.

This bill would make that policy mandatory across the state.

It's been almost six years since Katie Van Tornhout and her husband Craig lost their little girl Callie. She died of whooping cough at just 37 days old.

"It wasn't until this last April that i went to receive an award for the CDC about telling people about vaccinations that they traced it back to a nurse in the nicu that got her sick, that wasn't vaccinated," Van Tornhout said.

Van Tornhout says she wasn't vaccinated at the time, either. She says she didn't even know she or the nurses should have been. Tomorrow, Van Tornhout will testify in front of the state senate in support of the bill.

"I want to keep her spirit alive," Van Tornhout. "I want to do this so your baby doesn't get sick and you don't walk the road that we have walked."

"As a staff person, who takes care of a person in the hospital, you pretty much want to be immunized against these things that you can be exposed to on a regular basis," said Dr. Jesse Hsieh, an Associate Professor at Indiana University's School of Medicine.

Dr. Jesse Hsieh, a member of the Beacon Health System board of directors, says the CDC and the State Department of Health mandate employees constantly wash their hands and use hand sanitizer, but that isn't enough.

"You're talking about people who are in contact with tons of other peoplem," Hsieh said. "The staff in the hospital are the most exposed and they're also the most in contact with other patients that are sick."

And that's one reason Katie and her family refuse to stop Callie's Crusade.

"It kind of helps me accept that she's not here and to keep her spirit alive," Van Tornhout said. "I always said that she was going to be a poster baby when she was little because she was so pretty, and here she is a poster baby for vaccines. It's what I do. I'm a mom on a mission. This is what I do now."

If this bill passed, it would take effect on July 1st. Beacon Health Systems, which is Memorial and Elkhart General hospitals, already require vaccinations.

WSBT reached out to St. Joseph Health Systems and I-U Health but have not heard back.

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