Why let those opposed to flu shots have all the fuzzy-thinking fun?

By: September 17th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Standing on my soapbox, as fair disclosure…

I can accept the conspiracy theorists’ rantings and ravings on flu vaccinations (Click here for fine examples of the “don’t-tread-on-me” persuasion), but I am getting a bit tired, and disappointed, with healthcare workers finding excuses, sometimes in a perverted grasping at straws way, not to get vaccinated.

The historical, unconscionable low rates of seasonal flu vaccinations among healthcare workers is depressing enough. But it makes me wonder what kind of care healthcare workers are providing when they ignore medical advice and ethical appeals to get vaccinated for H1N1, or swine flu. (See “C’mon health workers, get your swine flu shots” and “Is It Ethical for a Nurse to Decline the H1N1 Vaccine?”)

Even more unfathomable are healthcare workers, and their supportive labor unions, who get righteous about demanding N95 respirators but strenuously object to mandatory immunizations, both the New York and California nurses associations serve as an example.

This pick and choose worker-safety approach is like the buffet line in workplace lunch rooms, which, may go by the wayside in the event of an out-of-control H1N1 pandemic. Now there is a conspiracy theory worth worrying about.

What if patients were savvy enough to inquire about the vaccination rate among staff members before deciding to come to your facility—maybe they already are? They certainly have the right to know about their chances of catching swine flu while seeking treatment.

Or, what if I decided to pro-rate my co-pay based on how rigorously you protect me form H1N1. After all, I’m paying for your best advice and care, and you can only get 50%, more or less, of your staff to take a flu shot. Hmmm… let me figure out what this less-than-best-care is worth on my tip calculator.

Admitted, these are over-the-top musings, but why limit uncritical thinking only to the anti-vaccination side of the debate.

That felt good.

If you disagree, you are welcome to comment below.

Comments

dear mr lahoda,

how much knowledge of virus’s, vaccines, immune respones, mutations etc. have you? of course you are aware that physicains are under strict orders to report reactions to flu vaccination? there is a great deal of uncertainty involved here. of course that reporting of adverse effects is for the following year, not twenty years later when the sequale (of mutations caused by picking and chosing and combining viral parts for vaccines) may become apparent. (mutations are how the virus jumped from swine or bird to human host)

most health care workers are not within the target age range, and do not have immune compromised conditions. why would they then want to take a chance “fooling with mother nature”? this is not ebola; this is a mild case of flu like illness.

i can only surmise that hospitals are afraid their staff will call in sick out of panic in the same way teachers have demanded school closings.

please dont use the word ethical. its unethical to inject a forein material into me if i choice not to partake. instead, perhaps inject all those who are patients before they cross the emergency room threshhold. (you cant leave your dog in the vetinary hospital without first getting him vaccinated)

and by the way, you cinched your arguement when you wrote “what if patients were savy enough to ask if the staff…” ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY, and that is unethical, sir.

respectfully,
arlene

dear mr. lahoda,

read the article ; not impressed with your argument. It’s not the idea of protecting patients or getting a vaccination, it’s the fact that we are being forced to protect others at our own possible peril. i don’t need to be told to wear my seatbelt or drive without using a cell phone because doing so makes sense in that it has been proven safe and effective for both myself and other drivers. there are far more ways to stay healthy other than just a flue shot and i practice them.like i said before, i have no problem getting vaccinated when one is available without the other chemicals that have been reported with the current vaccine and the track record for effectivness has improved. who knows what else the government will force us to take- is this just the start?

Why not vaccinate the patients? Wouldn’t that protect them better than mass-forcing poor healthcare workers to get vaccinated against their will? Everyone has the right to make informed decisions regarding their health (and yes…including healthcare workers – they have rights, too … or so I thought).

dear mr lahoda

have you a degree in microbiology? i rather think not and its your goal to sell books and videos, and get your name googled. isnt that true?

tthats sort of like wanting the hospitals staff vaccinated so the patients do not decide to go elsewhere, as opposed to wanting the staff vaccinated because they are like your family and you want them to stay healthy in the face of this disaster.

so, do you “watch” osha? and launch some products to sell. that makes you more or less a motivational speaker kind of guy. it leaves me to wonder why you are not questioning this: why are so many healthcare workers, albiet some with minimal medical knowledge, so adamantly against a vaccine that is reinvented every year and you are not?

respectfully
a

Arlene:

No, I don’t have a degree in microbiology, but the experts at the CDC do, or they have access to the best in the word, and I think their advice on the safety of the vaccine is clear.

I clearly hear the opposition of your” many healthcare workers, albeit some with minimal medical knowledge.” I think in matters of this importance, healthcare experts with maximal infectious disease knowledge carry the day.

By David LaHoda on September 18th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Angie:

Let me get this straight. You wouldn’t mind being vaccinated as a patient, but you object to being vaccinated as a healthcare worker even though you are both in the same area. Guess you are asking patients to do more for preventing infections in your facility than you are asking staff members to do. That seems topsy-turvy, which was the point of my post. Of course if you take the CDC recommendations to its logical conclusion then all patients and workers would be vaccinated.

Yes, everyone, including healthcare workers, has the right to make a choice. And in some states like NY, that choice has consequences on whether you can continue to work in some healthcare facilities.

By David LaHoda on September 18th, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Paul:

Sorry that your government seems like a bad, bad, dude…Mine doesn’t appear that way. Diversity of opinion, I guess.

By David LaHoda on September 18th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Arlene:

No, I cinched the argument when I said I was engaging in fuzzy thinking. I thought the headline made that clear. And as to your comment “this is a mild case of flu like illness”…try convincing a patient in the throes of H1N1 symptoms with your characterization of it being mild. Yes, it’s mild…in comparison to the Spanish influenza of 1918. But that does not mean it’s not worth protecting people from it, especially when you have a number of means to do it, including vaccination, and that includes healthcare workers.

As for who holds the ethical high-ground on this matter, I give more weight to those who say influenza vaccinations are a professional responsibility. (See Dr. William Schaffner’s Introduction to the 2008 supplement to the American Journal of Medicine.

why only public health facilities under article 28 mandated for vaccination and not all public and private healthcare facilities? is this correct?

Mr LaHoda,
I don’t want to be forced to be vaccinated as a nurse and I don’t want to be forced to be vaccinated as a patient. If I were to choose to get vaccinated, I want to do it out of free will, not in a fear of losing my job, passion and income in one.
All I am saying is patients that are THAT concerned (paranoid) about swine flu that they would chose the hospital based on how many employees are vaccinated, should get vaccinated themselves – that is the best protection, isn’t it?

Angie:

If everyone got vaccinated you wouldn’t have to distinguish between vaccinated/unvaccinated patients and healthcare workers. Now, that would provide the best protection.

david:

i did read dr schaffners article which contained his statement regarding a health care workers responsiblility. he is an expert in the field. i would enjoy a conversation with him.

i am also aware of his position as consultant to those same manufacturers who are producing the vaccine.

i wish i was the kind of person who could simply let you have the last word…i really feel that i have expressed my concerns to the best of my ability with my personal, but educated opinion.

its gotten to be more like a bunch of angry dogs hanging off your pant leg, no?
you do enjoy this. you havent persuaded me though. i will follow this discussion i suppose, and thats to your credit.

respectfully
arlene

Arlene:

Thanks for engaging in discussion and for bringing your thoughts to OSHA Healthcare Advisor.

Mr. LaHoda,
I have to admit that your provoking answer about mandatory mass-vaccination of Americans made me laugh. Since we are forcing people to get vaccinated, why don’t we mandate all female teenagers to get vaccinated against cervical cancer? That would really decrease cost of healthcare. I apologize for the sarcastic tone, but I am just so fed up with people trying to make decisions for me.
P.S. Thank you for this blog, it really allows people to express how they feel and learn from each other. Hopefully someone from CDC is reading it and getting a clue. Either I get a flu vaccine this year or not, I will not change my mind that it is criminal to mandate healthcare workers to get vaccinated or lose their job. I hope lawyers will find a way to sue the manufacturers and authors of this decision for all the reactions/side effects people will develop now and/or in the future.

By Robert Protesto on September 21st, 2009 at 3:47 pm

David,

I agree; why shouldn’t the government make the vaccine mandatory for people who “choose” to be healthcare workers? I don’t believe the authorities are doing enough to protect the patient. Let’s talk immune system: How many healthcare workers have compromised immune systems because they either smoke, drink too much alcohol, eat too much, eat foods that are bad for them, don’t get enough sleep, or don’t get the adequate exercise that the experts recommend? There is not debate; it’s fact: these bad behaviors compromise the body’s immune system. A healthcare worker with a compromised immune system puts the patient at risk. These bad choices also deplete the healthcare system as the worker becomes the patient. Why do we tolerate this? I believe, with today’s technology, we are able to monitor the behaviors of the healthcare worker during their time off duty to assure that they are in compliance with the standards our patients deserve in this country. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a rating system for hospitals that have workers who choose to make the healthiest choices!

By Evan Sweeney on September 21st, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Paul,
The regulation covers quite a few healthcare facilities including, “hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers licensed under Article 28 of the Public Health Law (PHL), home care services agencies licensed under Article 36 of the PHL including certified home health agencies, licensed home care services agencies, long term home health programs including AIDS home care programs, and hospice programs certified under Article 40 of the PHL.”

For updated info see the most recent blog post, and the FAQs on New York’s DOH Web site.

By Robert Protesto on September 22nd, 2009 at 11:38 am

Dave,
As I read these comments, it appears that the only people with a sound mind are you, Evan, and myself. I don’t know why; but many Americans, seem to have it in their blood to distrust government and large institutions. Perhaps this “don’t tread on me” paranoia originated with the founding fathers. This constitution that they wrote was all about them; fear based protecting the individual from a “bad” government. I am glad, as I am sure you and Evan are, that things are starting to change. Even though our constitution has been the longest lasting for over 200 years; this individualistic, fear based piece of paper has held us back in many areas. Bottom line: if we had more trust in the government and the authorities who know what is best for everyone and less trust in the individual, our conscience, and in god; we would achieve greatness.

Robert:

Fortunately, I can detect your eponymous intent…clearly.

Excuse me Robert Protesto, Let’s talk about immune systems? I’m 48, I’ve never had the flu! Most of the time I do eat right, (home cooked meals). I usually don’t get more than 6hrs of sleep. I rarely drink, and the last cold I caught was about three years ago that lasted 2 days. Oh by the way, I’ve been a smoker for 32 years. I guess I’m the luckiest man on the face of this earth! That throws your theory about smoking out the window.

Whoa Robert are you kidding me? Bottom line: if we had more trust in the government and the authorities who know what is best for everyone and less trust in the individual, our conscience, and in god; we would achieve greatness.

I DON’T NEED THE GOVERNMENT OR AUTHORITIES TO TELL ME WHAT’S BEST FOR ME OR MY FAMILY! YOU NEED TO READ OUR CONSTITUTION! ANYTIME I SEE THE WORD GOD BROUGHT INTO A DEBATE I KNOW RIGHT AWAY IT’S JUST ANOTHER RELIGIOUS FANATIC.

LET ME TELL YOU ALL SOMETHING, AND THERE’S NOT ONE DOCTOR OUT THERE THAT WILL ARGUE THIS FACT WITH ME. FROM THE DAY YOU ARE BORN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS DEVELOPING. THERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT WILL DETERMINE HOW HEALTHY YOU WILL BE AS AN ADULT. 1) YOUR DIET…2) EXERCISE…3)AMOUNT OF SLEEP. IF AS A CHILD YOUR PARENTS FEED YOU FAST FOOD SIX DAYS A WEEK, YOU SIT IN FRONT OF THE TV PLAYING YOUR X-BOX. DO YOU REALLY THINK YOUR NOT GOING TO HAVE HEALTH PROBLEMS AS AN ADULT?
Mmmmm…That sounds like common sense to me! I learned that from my parents not the government.

Please……… Where is the EMERGENCY???
What is the documented EMERGENCY??
NY State EXERCISED their Muscle/ARM and have now made a LAW/Public Health or otherwise to MANDATE vaccinations for HCP?? Is there power not restricted to EMERGENCY Times?? if not How about that little piece being CHANGED??

By Robert Protesto on June 26th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Arlene, Angie, Paul, and Mary thanks for speaking out, very strong points. Isn’t it interesting that that everyone who wrote a comment is in disagreement with the article? We’ll decide when the “argument is clinched”!

By Robert Protesto on June 26th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Dave,
Perhaps you can clearly see eponymous intent. Do you want to know what I see? I see the title and content of your article as pompous, communistic, and recklessly disrespectful to a large portion of very dedicated health care workers. Whether we choose to receive the vaccine or not, we have nothing to be ashamed of. Just remember, if an epidemic were to break out, we’ll be the ones most at risk, putting our life on the line while you, Dr. William Schaffner, the people who work for the CDC, and the other experts who “hold the ethical high ground” will be sitting in air conditioned offices looking over the statistics. So please, have a little respect for these people (in your articles) even if they don’t agree with your agenda.

By Robert Protesto on June 26th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Mike,

It’s OK buddy. Everything is going to be fine; don’t worry.

 

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