WASHINGTON (PAI) — Lack of paid sick leave in the U.S. may force flu-ridden employees — men and women who caught the flu and didn’t get shots due to lack of vaccine — to work when they should not, the National Partnership for Women and Families says.

NPWF’s comments came as Bush administration officials scrambled to find more flu vaccine, after a severe shortage that they revealed in October. The shortage occurred because the British factory that makes much of the vaccine broke down months before, but Bush officials did not seek alternative vaccine sources.

“The vaccine shortage means more families will likely be hit by the flu this season, and with no federal law guaranteeing paid sick days, many workers may put others at risk by going to work sick, because they cannot afford to miss a paycheck,” said NPWF President Debra Ness.

She noted approximately half the U.S. private workforce, 86 million workers, lack paid sick leave, and can turn only to unpaid leave under the labor-backed Family and Medical Leave Act. That’s a leave that many workers can’t afford, she said.