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September 27, 2009


Washington Post - With the H1N1 pandemic spreading rapidly, hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses, orderlies and other U.S. health-care workers for the first time are being required to get flu shots, drawing praise from many public-health authorities but condemnation from some employees, unions and other critics who object to mandatory vaccination.

One of the nation's most populous states, the country's largest hospital chain and the Washington area's biggest private health-care system are among those ordering influenza inoculation for health-care employees this year, along with a growing list of medical centers and clinics coast to coast.

The trend is being fueled by frustration at the stubbornly low proportion of health-care workers who get vaccinated each year despite years of coaxing, urging and incentives to do so voluntarily, combined with trepidation that the swine flu pandemic could overwhelm the health-care system, especially if many caregivers get sick, too.

Critics, however, say the decision to get vaccinated should remain individual, especially for the swine flu vaccine, which was rushed into production to try to blunt the pandemic's second wave. . . A survey of 1,500 British nurses conducted in August by the Nursing Times found that one-third would not get the vaccine because of safety concerns. . .

Only about half of health-care workers get flu shots during a typical flu season, even though their patients tend to be more vulnerable to infection and potentially life-threatening complications. Concern is spiking this year because of the new swine flu virus, known as H1N1.

New York this year became the first state to require all health-care workers with direct patient contact at hospitals, health centers, hospices and private homes to get flu shots -- both the seasonal flu vaccine, which is already available, and the swine flu vaccine, which will start to arrive next month. . .

MedStar, the state of New York, HCA and other entities requiring vaccination are allowing exemptions for employees who have medical reasons for not getting vaccinated, such as egg allergies or risk factors for a rare complication known as Guilliame-Barre syndrome. MedStar and HCA and others also allow workers with religious objections to be exempted.

In New York, however, where the policy affects about 522,000 employees, no religious exemptions are allowed. Workers who refuse would be assigned to duties that do not involve patient contact, and they could face further disciplinary action. . .

HCA employees who do not get vaccinated will have to wear surgical masks during the flu season or be dismissed. MedStar workers who refuse would face disciplinary action, including possibly being fired. . .

"As a general rule, medicine should be a voluntary occupation," said George Annas, a Boston University bioethicist. "Once you start requiring doctors to get it, doctors are going to think it's reasonable to make patients get it. It starts you down that mandatory route, and I don't think we want to go there."

Some unions also object, saying mandatory vaccination diverts attention from other more effective infection-control methods, such as providing workers with state-of-the-art, well-fitting masks.

LA Times - In a poll of 1,678 U.S. parents conducted by the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, 40% said they would get their children immunized against the H1N1 virus -- even as 54% indicated they would get their kids vaccinated against regular seasonal flu.

Among those who said they do not intend to have their kids vaccinated against H1N1, almost half -- 46% -- indicated they're not worried about their children becoming ill with the pandemic virus. Twenty percent said they do not believe the H1N1 flu is a serious disease. . .

More than half of Latino parents said they would bring their kids to get vaccinated against H1N1. Among white parents, 38% said they would do so. African American parents were the least inclined to vaccinate: 30% said they planned to do so.

About half of the parents who said they'd pass on the H1N1 flu shot for their kids expressed concern about possible side effects of the vaccine.


Blogger RandA said...

More power to the elbow of those who refuse to take vaccines lying down. The science is flawed, the efficacy is questionable, the historical impact of insufficiently tested pharmaceuticals is littered with the bodies of those who were adversely affected. More emphasis on encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle and habits -- especially in the area of diet and exercise (I know -- its an old song but about time everyone hummed it!) -- is far more preferable than the continued promotion of suspicious chemical prophylactics that may prove to cause far more ills than thay could ever 'fail-to' cure. Vaccinations are not the answer -- in fact the billions $$ to be earned via selling these risk-laden shots, only encourages the large pharmaceutical companies to indulge in surreptitious 'bio-terrorism' by creating new strains and 'accidentally' releasing them so that they can then produce supposed-solutions... it's a given!
Time more people than just a few sensible nurses woke up to reality and began to take responsibility fo their own health and that of their children more seriously... Just a pity that most do not have the faintest idea about just how radically they will ned to overhaul their current habits to save their families from certainly developing chronic health issues in the future.

September 27, 2009 1:30 PM  
Anonymous robbie said...

I will not take a flu shot. I never have and I see no reason to start now.

September 29, 2009 7:13 AM  

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