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Feds Order Rite Aid to Pay Fines After Refusing to Give Flu Shot to HIV-Positive Customer

Feds Order Rite Aid to Pay Fines After Refusing to Give Flu Shot to HIV-Positive Customer


The DOJ cracks down after a pharmacist at a store in Okemos, Mich., refused to give the seasonal flu vaccine to a man with HIV.

The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered Rite Aid of Michigan to pay fines and create new policies to settle a claim one of its store pharmacists refused to administer a flu shot to an HIV positive man. 

According to the settlement agreement released by the DOJ and the White House, the unidentified man went to a Rite Aid pharmacy location in Okemos, Mich., on Sept. 12, 2012. He went there to obtain a seasonal flu vaccine. However, the pharmacist on duty refused to administer the vaccine claiming she needed special gloves to administer it to a person living with HIV. The settlement agreement notes that the pharmacist continued to administer vaccines to other customers in the store. The settlement notes that the pharmacist had access to surgical gloves. 

The next day, the pharmacy called the complainant and tried to arrange an appointment for him when the pharmacist was not working. The complainant went to another Rite Aid location and received the vaccination without any issue at the other location. 

The government says Rite Aid violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to administer the vaccine. As a result, Rite Aid will pay $10,000 to the complaining witness, plus $5,000 in civil fines. The business will also be required to create policies and training to make sure employees do not violate the ADA again. 

It is important to note that Okemos is located in Ingham county. Ingham has the highest HIV prevalence in the state of Michigan — outside of metro Detroit — with over 500 identified cases of HIV currently residing in the county. Of those cases, one in five is in a person age 13 to 24. 

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Todd Heywood