Philly restaurant workers get free flu shots

    Restaurant workers got free flu shots in Philadelphia Tuesday from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Restaurant Opportunities Center.

    In a third-floor conference room in a Jefferson building in Center City, two nurses and a pile of syringes waited patiently for waiters and bartenders to trickle in for their jabs.

    Willing victim Craig Wolfgang works at Hawthornes Café.

    “They call me beer dude,” he said.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    He says the restaurant’s stress on good worker health stops short of free flu shots.

    “My boss is really big on hand sanitizer and hand washing and everything, so they do what they can to promote it,” Wolfgang said. “But you’re going to get sick.”

    Wolfgang has already been out sick for a week this season, so he’s not taking any chances.

    “Gotta make money, if I’m not getting paid for sick days, I gotta do something,” Wolfgang said. “Rather than losing time at work, I’ll just stay healthier.”

    Sheila Maddali from the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Philadelphia said it is especially important for restaurant workers to have easy access to the flu shot.

    “It’s a workforce that has a lot of contact with the public, it’s a workforce that predominantly doesn’t have access to health insurance or paid sick days, so infection spreads quicker, flu shots are expensive, people can’t afford to take a day off work, so really we feel prevention is key,” she says.

    Flu activity in Philadelphia continued to rise the week of Jan. 6-12 with 200 flu hospitalizations reported.

    More than 5,000 were reported statewide.

    The Restaurant Opportunities Center in Philadelphia co-sponsored the vaccination event at Jefferson partly to raise awareness about a paid sick days bill that is expected to be reintroduced in City Council Thursday.

    The measure was vetoed by Mayor Michael Nutter last summer.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal