October 07, 2009 | | Comments 4
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Mandatory H1N1 flu vaccination causes controversy

The first doses of the H1N1 vaccination have officially arrived in the United States and a nurse was one of the first to receive the vaccine. Holly Smith is a pediatric nurse at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center, in Memphis, TN, and mother of two children. Smith reported that she chose to be vaccinated for the sake of her kids, as well as for the children she works with.

Le Bonheur has seen numerous cases of H1N1 since late August and received 100 doses of nasal spray vaccine. The vaccines were given to healthcare workers in an outdoor tent set up to treat children with flu symptoms and keep them separate from other patients.

Public health authorities in 21 other states and four large cities, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, have been shipped the swine flu vaccination, roughly totaling 600,000 doses.

As vaccines are shipped around the country, many hospitals, university health systems, and even some states are requiring that all healthcare workers receive the H1N1 flu vaccine, or either spend the flu season wearing a mask or risk losing their job.

New York is the first state requiring healthcare workers to receive both the annual influenza shot and the H1N1 vaccine by November 30. Many large hospitals and health systems are also mandating the shot, including Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, Loyola University Health System in Chicago, BJC Health Care in MI, Emory in Atlanta, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Maryland.

ABC News reports that many healthcare workers have protested policies that make the vaccines mandatory; citing reasons such as fear the safety trials of the vaccine were rushed

In a rally held outside the New York State Capitol, a nurse told an ABC News affiliate that the decision to make the vaccine mandatory makes her feel vulnerable and like a guinea pig. Another nurse expressed concern about being mandated to put something into her body. The New York States Nurses Association says it supports immunization, but also supports healthcare professionals’ right to choose whether to be vaccinated.

Does your facility require staff members to be vaccinated for both seasonal flu and H1N1? Do you think states and hospitals have the right to require the shots? Is your facility taking preventative measures if getting vaccinated is not mandatory?

Source: ABC News Health and The New York Times

Entry Information

Filed Under: Hot topicsInfection control


Sarah Kearns About the Author: Sarah is an Editorial Assistant in the patient safety group at HCPro, Inc. She contributes to two monthly newsletters; Briefings on the Joint Commission and Briefings on Patient Safety, and manages four e-zines; Accreditation Connection, AHAP Staff Challenge, Nurse Manager Weekly, and Healthcare Training Weekly. She also helps research new products for the patient safety and nursing market. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2008 where she earned her bachelor's degree in English.

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  1. Good for Holly Smith…if that’s what she wanted to do. Hope she stays healthy or alive after her vaccine…because she won’t be able to take care of her children or work if the vaccine incapacitates her.

    Nothing much is said about the fact this vaccine is not even made in the United States. Does anybody remember Heparin from China and what it did? What kind of controls can we expect in other countries? If the vaccine is so safe, why have the pharmacutical companies been granted immunity by our goverment from any lawsuits concerning the vaccine?

    We are not being told the whole story about this rushed up vaccine. And today I read the government is not even keeping track of the number of swine flu cases anymore…which sounds like another coverup.

    Healthcare workers, just like every American, should have the right to choose. I take good care of my patients and wish them a speedy recovery. But I do not want to be severly ill or die for them from a vaccine I don’t need or want.

  2. Our facility offers but does not require the staff to become vacinated. If we chose not to we must sign a form saying that we knowingly are declining the shot.
    They are going to do the same with the H1N1 vaccine.
    We are no longer sending any swabs to the CDC at this time. Anyone who tests positive for influenza A is assumed to have the swine flu.
    I am not sure how I feel about the “rush job” on the vaccine production. I would hope that our FDA would have some oversight for looking into the quality of it even though we didn’t produce it. We could be doing more harm than good by injecting our staff with sub-standard medication. We could potentially be mking ill the exact population we are trying to protect…the caregivers…ourselves.

  3. If a healthcare worker wants to receive the H1N1 vaccine as her choice, that is fine. No one should be made to do it. There are some of us that prefer going the homeopathy route or with herbs. I do not want that poison in my body and especially since it has not been tested to see what the results will be. It could cause someone to die quicker than the flu would. Do they actually know how many side effects it can cause not that most medicines don’t cause some reaction of some kind? Is the FDA really looking out for us or for their pockets?

  4. No one health care worker should have to face the choice of being vaccinated with any vaccine or risk losing their jobs.

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