Hospital workers fired for refusing vaccinations

By Phil Plait | December 5, 2009 4:26 pm

NBC is reporting that several workers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia were fired for refusing to get vaccinated. CHP cares for very sick children, many of whom have compromised immune systems or are too young to get vaccinated.

The twist? Some of the employees refused vaccinations for religious reasons:

"I am a Christian, and my religion prohibits me from receiving vaccines," said Tyrika Cowlay, who was a lab technician.

First and foremost, this isn’t a religious issue. It’s a safety issue. I mean, c’mon. We know vaccinations prevent the spread of diseases, especially among children, and even more so among those who are too young to be vaccinated themselves — herd immunity is all those infants have.

Second, I’m thinking that if your religion forbids you from vaccinations (and to my knowledge, mainstream Christianity does not preclude them), then maybe a children’s hospital isn’t the best line of work for you (any more than an orthdox Jew should work at a pork rendering factory). That may seem harsh, but let’s replace a few words in the linked article and see how you feel:

Several Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia employees were fired for refusing to wash their hands after using the bathroom.

The people who were let go said this year is the first that the hospital has mandated hand washing.

“I never thought that not washing my hands after I used the toilet would result in the loss of my job,” said [one of the workers who was let go].

Imagine someone at a hospital claiming their religion says they can’t wash their hands! If I saw a hospital employee leave the bathroom without washing, I’d file a complaint instantly. I have no qualms with the hospital making vaccinations a mandatory requirement.

However, one issue raised in the article is that some employees were granted exemption from the vaccinations and some weren’t. If that’s true, it’s unfair. No one should be exempted due to their beliefs.

There. Problem solved.

So while I’m sorry these people had to be let go, I will always choose children’s safety over someone’s religious or personal beliefs. Always.

Tip o’ the syringe to Matt Andrews.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Religion
MORE ABOUT: vaccinations

Comments (194)

  1. Here, here! Well put! It astounds me that many healthcare workers don’t get vaccinations. There should be 100% compliance. No excuses. Lives are at stake!

  2. Gary Ansorge

    I feel so sorry for those poor people. Being forced to meet some arbitrary standard just to have a job. What’s next? Firing doctors just because they don’t have a degree?

    I have a feeling, if they don’t want to be vaccinated, they would be better employed as garbage collectors.

    GAry 7

  3. DaveS

    Not washing for religious reasons? Gimme that old time religion! (Christian, of course)

  4. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Err… Phil, that should be orthodox, not “orthdox”.

  5. Mike Mullen

    Okay anyone else concerned that a hospital had to mandate handwashing for its employees? As if it shouldn’t be blindingly obvious to anyone who works with sick people?

  6. John P.

    I live in Philly and I’m glad that CHOP has a strict policy. This is a CHILDREN’S Hospital and they are usually severly ill with depressed immune systems. Every employee should be vaccinated.

    Here’s the story link to our local TV station.

    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/Fired-CHOP-Couple-Religion-Kept-Them-From-Getting-Vaccinated-78601067.html

    It’s ironic some of the fired individuals are members of the health care union.

  7. Alan in Upstate NY

    Vaccinations, like hand washing, should be obvious necessities to anyone working in such a venue. Shame on any health care “professional” who doesn’t understand these simple things.

    Clear skies, Alan

  8. Derek

    One of the significant prejudices that the Han culture of China have against the Tibetan culture is that there is a large number of Tibetans who practice a religious form that prohibits bathing. Or, more accurately, they are only permitted to bath at birth and at marriage. I don’t know their policy on hand washing. (So remember, all those beautiful Tibetan girls you see in various campaigns haven’t bathed in 20 years).

    Would these people be disallowed from working in a hospital in the USA because of their religious beliefs?

    Is that why Tibetans have a hard time getting jobs at Han owned businesses in China? (I’m told by small business owners in China that it is and I can tell you, generally, the Chinese are clean freaks).

  9. Yojimbo

    My religion forbids me to lock doors and I wanna be a prison guard and if you don’t hire me its discrimination!

  10. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    @ Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum: Hear, hear! ;-)

  11. I can see them being exempt if they are allergic to eggs, but other than that — safety first! Shame on those workers for their negligence.

  12. NewEnglandBob

    Good for the hospital. They put out their refuse.

  13. Adrian Lopez

    Yup. There’s no room for Typhoid Maries among hospital workers. Though I don’t think I’m in favor of mandatory vaccinations for the general public, I am definitely in favor of mandatory vaccination of hospital workers.

  14. Reminds me of a story from a year ago about nurse trainees who complained about getting kicked off their nursing course because their religion meant they couldn’t touch male patients. It was a damned job requirement that they do so. Regardless of the reasons, f you can’t do the job, don’t apply for it. It’s as simple as that.

  15. Steve

    > I will always choose children’s safety over someone’s religious or personal beliefs. Always.

    NO! You have decided to walk a VERY dangerous path here. Here in Germany, the government is currently in progress of passing very evil Internet censorship laws – of course, for the good of the children. In the name of protecting the children, they want to seriously harm free speech and communication. Putting the safety of children ABOVE personal freedoms (whether it is the decision to get a vaccination or not – or any other decision a free person can make) is definately the wrong choice. Destroying constitutional rights, and personal freedom, just “for the sake of the children” cannot be right! Ever!

    This time, it’s a topic that we both agree on (that vaccinations are a wonderful invention), but what will it be next time? Don’t set a precedence! The right to refuse vaccination. And tomorrow? The right to anonymously speak to the press? The right to choose any religion? The right for secrecy of your medical data?

  16. Adrian Lopez

    @Steve,

    Censoring content may be presented as something for the good of the children, but — unlike requiring hospital workers to get vaccinated — censoring naughty images generally has nothing at all to do with actually keeping children safe. In the case of content, “think of the children” is often an empty rallying cry, but not in the case of hospital workers getting vaccinated.

    Instead of blindly rejecting any and all mandates on the grounds that some mandates are inappropriate, how about judging each issue on its own merits?

  17. Anyone choosing to defend these hospital workers (and I’m sure there are plenty out there) should ask themselves this question: Do you think the government should be telling restaurant workers to wash their hands after taking a massive dump in the bathroom? If you’re comfortable with someone’s contaminated hands making your ham sandwich, then by all means defend the rights of the anti-vax hospital workers.

  18. Sarah

    @ Steve,

    They have the right to refuse a vaccination, just not the right to refuse a vaccination and work around immune compromised children. They can still work somewhere else if they decide not to get vaccinated.

    This is more along the lines of requiring everyone to have insurance if they want to drive a car. People are more than welcome to not drive a car if they don’t want to get insurance. Maybe that’s not the best comparison but it represents the choice.

  19. Geeves

    Is this hospital a public or a private hospital? Important difference here. If private, then they can do what they want. If its publicly funded with our tax dollars, that means the government is forcing people to get vaccinations otherwise they lose their jobs. That’s a bit scary.

  20. Reed

    Geeves:
    As scary as requiring that doctors and nurses wash their hands or get fired.

  21. Larry

    Geeves,

    So obviously, you have no problems taking your child to a hospital where the staff can refuse vaccinations for typhus, chicken pox, diptheria, measles, and other diseases children can contract. Because, after all, they’re private so the big, bad gub’mint can’t enfore their silly, oppressive rules.

    Or, maybe, you do care and would only take you child to a proper hospital where the staff are required to be vaccinated and thus leave the unclean hosipitals to other children?

  22. This is doubly stupid for the people that were fired because working at a hospital makes them very susceptible to diseases that can be prevented by vaccines (especially the flu). It’s a bit like being a window washer on a skyscraper and then saying that you refuse to wear a safety harness for religious purposes.

    And I would like to know what specific Christian denomination that they belong to that is against vaccination. The article was very thin on those details.

  23. BTW, anyone else notice the lying anti-vaxxer on the NBC link? I guarantee they don’t work for a pharmacutical company. Especially since most seasonl flu vaccines don’t contain mercury.

  24. Carter

    Steve – To reiterate what Sarah said, this is not a freedoms issue. This has nothing to do with the first amendment or the constitution of any country. These people were not prosecuted or even persecuted for their religious beliefs. All of a sudden, by making the decision to not get vaccinated, which they have every right to make, these people could not fulfill job requirements. If you are a quadraplegic, you probably should not be a bulldozer operator. Endless analogies apply, but there’s no freedom argument here.

  25. Steve

    Maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough here – pardon me, english is not my first language. Of course he is right in this case, those guys should be fired. What I am strongly against is that he said he’d ALWAYS choose children over religion or personal belief, that’s why I specifically quoted him insted of just adding my comment. (He’s even written it in bold!) And that’s the part that is really, really wrong.

  26. Scott Smith

    I have a feeling their religion had nothing to do with them not getting a vaccine. The workers just didn’t want anyone telling them they HAD to have it and it came as a big surprise when they–rightly–got the boot. After being shown the exit, that’s when the whole “my religion forbids vaccines” baloney came into being. IF they couldn’t do vaccines, then how could they work in a hospital where they would be making children take vaccines and medicines and the like? After all, wouldn’t they then been forcing innocent children to break the laws of their so-called god? No… I still think the more reasonable explanation is that they didn’t want some one telling them they had to be vaccinated and got the nasty shock of being told they could no longer work there.

  27. NewEnglandBob

    “I will always choose children’s safety over someone’s religious or personal beliefs. Always. ”

    Sorry Steve. Always, Always, Always. Phil is right on that.

  28. Just as an aside, it would be easier to use the New Testament to justify not washing hands than to use it to justify not being vaccinated (see Luke 11:38 for instance).

  29. RS

    Oh yeah, BA? What about parents who smoke cigarettes/marijuana in the house with their kids? Parents who neglect their kids because they’re always drunk? Your last line implies you’d support forcing them to abstain for the safety of the kids. Yet somehow I doubt your belief system is that consistent.

  30. sascha

    Religion is the worst bureaucracy ever invented by man! Any religion!

  31. Gary Ansorge

    Ah, the new testament and a sears catalog. Both quite useful in an outhouse.

    GAry 7

  32. RS (#31): I’m sorry, I must have missed what your comment has to do with what a hospital’s policy should be for caretakers of sick children.

  33. amphiox

    Geeves, I am pretty certain that the government already requires ALL doctors and nurses to get a certain set of mandatory vaccinates, regardless of whether they work in private of public hospitals. Indeed, the same set of vaccinations are probably mandatory to even get into medical school (they certainly are in Canada).

    And that is the way it should be. Vaccination is an occupational requirement for healthcare workers, just the same as corrective lenses are for myopic taxi drivers, or a grasp of the appropriate language for diplomats. And it absolutely should be the governments responsibility to enforce these professional standards.

  34. Steve

    @NewEnglandBob

    Hm. Let’s think about following situation: A person who has little kids is a heavy smoker. We know that will hurt his children via passive smoking, and will decrease their chances of living a long and healthy life. So, how would you intervene? I think the way that person wants to live his life is his decision, and none of your business. By taking away his children, we might improve their health in the long term. Still, it is obviously not the right thing to do.

    So – we just found an example where the children’s safety does not have the highest priority.

    (Well, OK, sorry, I could’t come up with a better example at the moment, but it suffices to show my point.)

    While safety of children is an important issue, it is not the dominant issue in the universe, the single topic that everything else has to be ranked lower under. It is just one of many aspects in the complex looms of our lives. Not the single most important one that alone shall command our doings.

  35. Steve

    @Phil Plait
    Oh, funny, RS has just made the same point. But of course, you are right, we have gone quite off topic here, which I’m sorry for, and you can remove our comments if you want, I won’t be angry

  36. As a member of the military, if I didn’t get the shots I was supposed to, I was given an Article 15, and made non-deployable. This is serious stuff.

    http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.html

  37. Jane

    I nearly bled to death two years ago with an ulcer that perforated my stomach. At one point the medical team couldn’t find a pulse. Passing in and out of lucidity I heard the doctor order blood transfusions. My Mom is a Jehovah’s Witness and threw her body over mine sobbing, “No, no!”

    Fortunately, very fortunately, I was able to say, “I’m an Agnostic. Do whatever you want to do.” What would have happened if I would have completely lost consciousness? Who would have spoken for me? In many instances, I’ve trusted doctors more than my own mother.

    J.

  38. There was recently a hand-washing issue, wherein Muslim women working in a hosptical could not follow standard scrubbing procedures because they could not expose their forarms beyond a certain point/ I can’t remember how that one worked out.

  39. crow

    WE have no idea any of the side effect of the swing flu vaccination and we survived the swine flu scare of the 70’s.

    Mounting Debilities and Deaths from H1N1 Vaccine
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/05/Swine-Flu-Shot-Side-Effects-Beginning-to-Take-Their-Toll.aspx

  40. amphiox

    Steve, within the context of any institution whose prime responsibility is the care of children, such as a children’s hospital, or a school, for example, then YES, ABSOLUTELY, ALWAYS the children’s welfare comes before everything else. Because that is what those institutions are supposed to do. Children are the primary mandate, to which all other concerns are secondary.

    In the wider world, in contexts were the welfare of children is not the primary concern, then it is of course permissible to place other concerns as paramount, but those places and spheres of activity, the responsible thing to do would be to either exclude children, or provide fair warning to them and their caregivers that they “enter at their own risk”.

    The example of internet censorship is invalid because 1. the internet is not a domain where the primary mandate is the care of children, and 2. it is not established that censorship provides any clear benefit to children (and indeed might even harm them by restricting their access to valuable information).

    The example of a smoking/marijuana using parent expectorated in #31 is also invalid, because while certainly we know that second hand smoke is harmful to children, we do not know for certainty whether intervening by removing the child or compelling the parent to change behavior (and finding some way of actually enforcing that) results in a net benefit to the child, or ends up resulting in even more harm by disrupting the child’s home environment and relationship with the primary caregiver. Otherwise, it would be valid for the government to intervene, because this is also a situation where the welfare of the child is the primary responsibility. In similar situations where the harm/benefit ratio is clearly on the side of benefit to the child (case in point – abusive parent) the state does use its coercive power to intervene and remove the children from the home. And there is little to no controversy as to whether or not this is an appropriate action.

  41. I'd rather be fishin'

    What part of disease prevention did those workers not understand? I plan on starting a religion that prohibits working with scientifically illiterate people. Maybe it will catch on, stranger things have happened in the name of religious belief.

  42. Stargazer

    I agree completely. Belief in that which is not real should never be allowed to compromise the safety of children (who are quite real).

    And comment #40 is right. Of course if you work at a hospital, surely you understand something about disease prevention?

  43. Adam_Y

    I’m guessing the religious reason for people not vaccinating involves the cell lines that were used to make the vaccines. Its been reported on Skepchick but somehow someway the religious managed to make this into an abortion issue namely because the religious are complaining that the cell lines were clones of someone who had an abortion.

  44. Donnageddon

    My religious beliefs require me to spit on healthcare workers who refuse to be vaccinated.

    I am sure they will understand and respect my religious beliefs.

  45. I’m not sorry at all for them. Their behaviour is dangerous if not criminal.

  46. Chris

    So the Bible forbade vaccinations, even though vaccinations weren’t invented until the 18th century? That was a neat trick.

  47. GT

    Because Tyrika Cowlay claims to be a Christian doesn’t mean she actually is. And it’s a logical fallacy to extrapolate her statements as being characteristic of others. Aversion to modern medicine is characteristic of only a few fringe groups with theologies tenuously linked to mainstream Christianity. This story is shoddy, typical journalism, however. It takes a serious problem – violation of hospital policy and common sense – and turns it into a slam on “religion” when the problem really is public health employees who seem to be clueless about public health.

  48. Adam_Y

    @GT
    The religious have managed to make getting vaccinated an abortion issue. They deserved to be slammed.

  49. Tiffany

    If CHOP employees care more about their “religious” beliefs than the health of the children, they should be fired. And the same goes for most any other reason for which any other employee rejected the vaccine. By not getting the vaccine, they are further endangering the lives of the children that they are entrusted to care for. Negligence? I think so.

  50. Joe Alvord

    #40 I’d rather be fishn’

    The Dalai Lama said “If it is found that science and Buddhism disagree, then Buddhism must change.” I am not a Buddhist, but it is the only religion that I can truly respect.

  51. Donnageddon

    @ 47 Joe Alvord, interesting quote. Is there a citation for it I can use?

  52. Joe Alvord

    I heard in on the PBS radio “Fresh Air”, quoted by a man who co-wrote a book with the Dalai Lama. It was a few years ago. Sorry I don’t remember his name.

  53. Freya

    Maybe the religious person was a Christian Scientist? I’m not talking about a scientist who’s a Christian, but “Christian Science” is a kind of offshoot of Christianity (think Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses). One of its beliefs involves the rejection of most modern medicine – quite ironic considering the fact that they call themselves ‘scientists’.

    That said, if your religious beliefs prevent you from safely or effectively doing a job, then find a different job! How can people get through undergrad biology or chemistry lab, let alone medical school, without figuring out that they’ll need to wash their hands regularly? And how does one spend years in the medical field without discovering that vaccines help prevent the spread of deadly diseases?

  54. RE: Dalai Lama quote:

    * My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.
    o The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (2005)

    J/P=?

    thx to wikiquote.

  55. RE: Dalai Lama quote:

    * My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.
    o The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (2005)

    J/P=?

    thx to wikiquote.

  56. Does it make a difference that the two fired workers interviewed were a lab technician and a worker in environmental services? One could make a case that they have no direct patient contact. I bet that’s how other hospital workers can get religious or allergy-based exemptions.

    Personally, I think everybody working in a hospital should get vaccinated, but I can also see other points of view. Those exceptions may not weigh too heavily, especially in a facility for high-risk patients, but I do think it’s important to consider all the factors.

  57. Chris

    crow, look up “Scopie’s Law”… Quoting Mercola’s website has the same effect as if you were quoting whale.to: In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.

  58. One of the fired workers is claiming to be a herbalist, which to him is very spiritual:

    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/hotbutton/20091204_Elmer_Smith__At_CHOP__no_flu_shot__no_job__No_sense_.html?cmpid=44065997

    Sorry, but that’s not even a religion. It’s alt med with no verifiable efficacy.

    CHOP cares for some of the sickest children in the world, more than likely with severely compromised immune systems. I’m sorry these people are losing their jobs in this economy, but the patients come first.

  59. Sili

    The lack of handwashing is shocking and disgusting.

    I just heard last week, that a whole ward of nurses somewhere here in Denmark (wasn’t paying attention) had refused the offer of free vaccinations.

    I doubt they could be fired, given the way the Danish system works, but I completely agree that they should be.

  60. Geeves

    ahh yes, I dream of the day when my neighbor will be forced to get all vaccines, and it will be illegal for him to smoke in his own home(the smoke could get outside, the children, the children!), will have to abide by a certain diet because our beautiful city banned soda and transfat, and be forced to ride his bike to work.

    I honestly can’t wait for the day when a freedom all of you take for granted is suddenly gone. I mean, whats good for the collective is always good for you right…? right?

  61. Geeves @ #59: Wow, way to go completely off the deep end on that one. Are you putting us on?

  62. MadScientist

    “I am a Christian, and my religion prohibits me from receiving vaccines,”

    Yeah, we’ve heard that malarkey a million times in slightly different forms. “We are Seventh Day Adventists and our religion prohibits us from seeking medical assistance for our daughter who is suffering ketoacidosis due to Type 1 diabetes.” The verdict: guilty of negligence leading to unnecessary suffering and death. So anyone who is in favor of religious exemptions is saying “hey, yeah, go murder someone’s kid – it’s ok because, you know, I respect your religion.”

  63. Anders

    @Derek, #8
    Tibetans not washing for religious reasons? What an utterly ridiculous claim. A typical racist Chinese stereotype, I’m afraid. Once there was a widespread belief in Europe that Jews didn’t wash for religious reasons. Would you believe in that as well? There is nothing in Tibetan religion against washing. But, as people who has been to the more remote areas of the Himalayas can testify, amongst the rural population one can find a rather nonchalant attitude to personal hygiene. There are very practical reasons for that: It is cold because of the altitude, and firewood is VERY expensive. Tibetans living in Nepal, India or the West have exactly the same standards of hygiene as everone else in these areas.

  64. ausduck

    In my neck of the world, if you are a health care professional employed by the public health system and work in a ‘high risk’ clinical area (which means face-face contact with patients, esp maternity services, paediatrics, oncology etc etc) then you do have to be vaccinated against a whole schedule of diseases and those vaccinations must be up to date. If you cannot show this or object to the vaccinations that is fine – you are removed from the clincial areas and offered work elsewhere. It’s then up to you whether you stay employed or not, or whether you work in the clinical area you’d like to work in – simple choices, really. I work in a low risk non-clinical area now, but my vaccinations are still up-to-date.

    The above info is also the subject of a campaign by one of the antivax organisations here to spread fear and misinformation about “compulsory vaccination – first our healthcare workers, next the rest of us…” Completely missing the point, as usual.

    Besides, I’d question the ethics of any health care worker who puts their own beliefs above the safety of those that they are caring for. I also have no tolerance for health care professionals who do not wash their hands.

  65. fred edison

    What a lame excuse. They shouldn’t have been health care workers in the first place. Phil nailed it on the head. It’s not a harsh treatment, because someone in that position who actually cared wouldn’t want to risk being a walking carrier of disease in a center of healing. It’s preposterous to think that these people were so self-centered while they pretended to be “professional” caregivers.

    Surely, there were warnings beforehand and notices to the staff that these vaccinations were mandatory. The names of the people who weren’t vaccinated and didn’t lose their jobs due to “a religious belief,” should be written at the buildings entrance for all to see and take note of. And put a picture of a pair of dice next to each name.

  66. Juergen

    Don’t remind me about people not washing hands – one guy in our company always washes his hands in the bathroom BEFORE taking a piss… and never afterwards.

    The logic behind this escapes me, but I don’t shake hands with him…

  67. JB of Brisbane

    @Geeves – I’m not sure whether your comment at #59 is a “Slippery Slope” fallacy, or a “Thin Edge Of The Wedge” fallacy, but either way, it’s fallacious.

  68. Mark Hansen

    Geeves, these health care workers are around many children; most likely none of them their own. Would you like your neighbour to blow smoke all over your children?

  69. Elmar_M

    Firing them was the right decision, no matter what.
    I dont care whether they are tibetan monks, or white christians, or black tribesmen.
    You have to follow the rules of your workspace. Political correctness is a pest. It ruins the US (and it makes inroads here too). Soon noone will be able to do anything anymore, because it might step onto someones toes. That then means complete paralyzation of society.
    Religious freedom only goes so far. You can do whatever you want in your own 4 walls, but as soon as it starts affecting the freedom, savety and especially the health and wellbeing of others, it is over.
    It has to be.
    These employees are working with patients that have exactly the illnesses that they are supposed to get vaccinated against. These employees handle items touched by these people, items these people have sneezed on, have spit on, have shit on even. Then they will eventually touch other items that might get into contact with children that do not have a natural protection against this yet, that have not been vaccinated yet either, that have a compromised immune system because of another illness.
    If the employees dont wash their hands regularily and use sterilisant regulariy and if they are not getting their vaccinations that this is a terrible negigence that can only result in their emmediate removal from the job. If due to their negligence someone died, then the hospital might get sued for not enforcing this. Also I would say that if someone died due to them not getting vaccinated, it is bordering to negligent homicide.

    Besides, please explain to me where in the Bible it says that Christians cant get vaccinations…

  70. Fred

    I work for a major healthcare provider in St. Louis, with 13 affiliated hospitals. Last year all employees were required to get a seasonal flu shot, with exceptions for egg allergies. Even IS/IT folks (like myself) who never set foot in a hospital were required. And they let go several IS/IT folks who refused to get one.

    This year, they are requiring the seasonal again, and the H1N1 while supplies last. And again, including us geeks who don’t go near patients.

  71. Amphiox (#41) is absolutely correct.

    I would add that “censoring” the Internet is a terrible analogy. In principle, “censoring” the Internet is invalid: censoring according to whose ideals? The Germans have a less prudish attitude towards nudity than the Americans, for instance. In practice, it is impossible; no filtering software is foolproof, and invariably it filters out a good deal of innocent and potentially useful information. Finally, the “damage” done to children by encountering content that some would prevent them from accessing, accidentally or otherwise, is trivial compared to the real and serious risks of acquiring a vaccine-preventable disease.

    As for the notion of mandating vaccinations for everybody, I say: good! That was, more or less, how smallpox was eradicated; it can go much the same for most other serious vaccine-preventable diseases. Suppose a safe working vaccine for AIDS was created: would you recommend that *anyone* not get that?!

    And before anyone goes on about vaccine safety, consider that what you are really comparing is not getting vaccinated versus not getting vaccinated, but the risk of side effects from the vaccine versus the risk of whatever the virus will do to you should you get it. The likelihood that you will get the virus is much higher than that of experiencing any side effects from the vaccine (unless you have known contra-indicators, such as egg allergies), and the side effects from the vaccine are (in all carefully investigated cases) trivial compared to what the virus can do. For instance, I have recently recovered from H1N1; I would happily trade a sore arm and whatever other minor symptoms people complain about for a couple of days for the two weeks of misery the flu gave me.

    Vaccines are, in the vast majority of cases, safe and necessary. There are legitimate reasons for avoiding them, but neither religious objections nor the “slippery slope to totalitarian government” argument are valid ones.

  72. Mark

    I’m so sick of this garbage. The law actually says that something meant for secular purpose that applies regardless of belief is NOT a violation of the 1st. These dorks have no recourse. There is a clear secular purpose in protecting the health of immune compromised children. How about we hold clowns like this legally responsible for dragging preventable diseases into health care facilities?

    In the comments on the story itself, I saw somebody claim the two should sue the hospital. I had to post and ask if they were proposing a legal right to risk the health of immune compromised children and if a legal right to put razor blades in Halloween candy would be next.

    These hyper religious right types better be careful what they wish for. Imagine NAMBLA turning itself into a church. Then what?

    Come to think of it, how ’bout a religion that includes the sanctifying of holy places like public parks with wild sex orgies? That could be fun.

  73. Tsu Dho Nimh

    @24 … the multi-shot vials of flu vaccine do have thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative.

    Single-shot vials do not have any preservative.

  74. Tsu Dho Nimh

    @38 – I heard the doctor order blood transfusions. My Mom is a Jehovah’s Witness and threw her body over mine sobbing, “No, no!” What would have happened if I would have completely lost consciousness? Who would have spoken for me?

    I’ve been there, done that. Your mom’s requests would have been ignored.

    The assumption is that an unconscious person wants to live and all medically reasonable procedures are automatically OK. The blood transfusions would have been ordered and given unless YOU were over 18, conscious and coherent, specifically said no, and signed a refusal.

    If you were under 18 and unconscious, and your mom said “no transfusions”, a court order is a few minutes away,

    OTOH: One 22-year old bled to death after refusing transfusions for religious reasons. He was conscious enough to insist on signing the refusal.

  75. g6loq

    Anti-vaccination workers should convert to the Religion of Peace …
    They would be instantly accommodated and praised …

  76. Jane@38

    That’s what an Advance Directive is for. There is a default chain of who will be your advocate but it usually defaults to a spouse, parent, sibling or child (not sure what the order is).

    In any case, when it comes to medical decisions I would make really freaking sure that nobody who is a Jehovah’s Witness was an advocate at any time.

    Create an advance directive and make sure it is filed with your attorney, any hospital you go to, your primary care physician and in your wallet.

    For those who don’t know, an Advance Directive is also called a Living Will.

    It’s what you want to have happen if you are unable to make decisions for yourself (in a coma, psychotic, etc.).

  77. dragonet2

    Thank you, Phil.

    If you go into the healthcare field, you have chosen to serve people to your best abilities. I’m shocked that people that had the scientific education are stupid enough to reject vaccination. But I am also shocked that pharmacists refuse to fill legitimate prescriptions if they disagree with the ‘morals’ of the medication, they also should be fired. And also, I do think these people should ALL have their professional licenses pulled so they cannot foist their stupidity on any more people, they don’t deserve to be called nurses, pharmacists, doctors. etc.

    As for the whole handwashing thing, eeeuw. Just eeuw. Even alone at home I wash my hands when I do anything that might be icky. Eeeuw. The thought of hospital personnel not handwashing really skeeves me out. Last year my partner was in the hospital because of a surgical complication and EVERYONE who came into her hospital room washed their hands upon entering the room and on leaving the room.

  78. Richard Smoker

    8. Derek Says:
    December 5th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Is that why Tibetans have a hard time getting jobs at Han owned businesses in China? (I’m told by small business owners in China that it is and I can tell you, generally, the Chinese are clean freaks).

    Yes, the Chinese are clean freaks…in fact, they’re such clean freaks that they love to ETHNICALLY CLEAN those dirty Tibetans from the face of the Earth!!

  79. has

    What are the odds that the antivax flunkies now attacking CHOP for trying to protect its patients are also the first to rage about “iatrogenic deaths” when it suits them?

  80. Ivan:
    You’re right, of course. My brain took a short hiatus there…
    RDTAB

  81. Hand washing is a good comparison, though, I think an example akin to one of Dawkins’ might also be illuminating.

    “I am a practitioner of Voodoo, and my religion prohibits me from receiving vaccines,” said a lab a technician.

    “I am a Kemetic sun scarab worshiper , and my religion prohibits me from receiving vaccines,” said a lab technician.

    “I am a Zoroastrian, and my religion prhibis me from receiving vaccines,” said a lab technician.

    None of these people’s reluctance would be given the time of day. They’d simply be fired and this would be a non story.

  82. Donald

    Oh, but you presuppose that the world is based on the fear that controls you. You view the world as a dangerous place, most likely as a result of media buy-in. Vaccines are not for everyone, meaning it is NOT CLEAR that these vaccines are really needed. Just because you are Christian does not mean that everyone is and may have valid, meaningful reason for not wanting the vaccine. Just because you don’t understand is not license for you to judge.

    As for washing hands, if I enter the bathroom to get a towel and someone sees me leave, will they report me for not washing hands? It is litigious and fear-based behavior. Your ignorance is like a virus. Please do not spread it anymore.

  83. Donald (#85), your example is silly. If I am in the bathroom and a guy walks out of a stall and out the door, I know he didn’t wash his hands. I wouldn’t report anyone if I wasn’t sure.

    Don’t extrapolate your own misunderstandings to everyone else behaving out of fear.

    And if you think vaccinations for MMR, diptheria, pertussis, and others, are not needed for workers in a children’s hospital, then I’m not the one who is ignorant.

  84. Benny

    @donald You said: “Vaccines are not for everyone, meaning it is NOT CLEAR that these vaccines are really needed.”

    Vaccines are for people who do not want to get, or pass on, serious preventable illnesses. They work, and the vaccination of their caretakers are the only protection the children in this hospital may have from death. Healthcare workers deciding (for any reason) to not get vaccinated KILLS CHILDREN. It is that simple.

    These vaccines are absolutely necessary, and you are completely and totally wrong.

  85. @Jewel #11

    “I can see them being exempt if they are allergic to eggs”

    The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for disabilities. In this case, the egg allergy would be a disability, not requiring a vaccination would be an accommodation, but whether it’s “reasonable” is the real question. If the person’s lack of vaccination would put immuno-compromised patients at risk of death, then maybe it is NOT a reasonable accommodation. If this ever went to a court, they would have to weigh the risk of death to patients from H1N1 against the risk of the allergic employee contracting and spreading H1N1 to the patients.

  86. MadScientist

    @zandperl #88:

    That’s not true. The vaccines are not 100% effective, so even complete vaccination will not guarantee that some nasty bug doesn’t come in and kill off people. The exemption to egg allergy must be due to traces of albumin in the vaccine and known severe side-effects. You do need some plan in place just in case the unvaccinated staff do catch whatever it is you’re vaccinating against, but as I said, the very bug you believe you’re vaccinating against can come in and infect some vaccinated folks too. In the case of the flu, thanks to rapid mutation, H1N1 can conceivably come in and infect every vaccinated person. This is a case of taking reasonable precautions; refusing a vaccine based on personal beliefs of any sort is not reasonable and the hospital has a duty to its shareholders to get rid of such people; if not, the insurance companies will not pay up if a lawsuit did come about.

  87. I am glad to hear that they were fired, everyone working in a hospital or day care should have their vaccinations given their proximity to children. This should be a no brainer. And if that means that there are less religious people around our children to poison their minds, so much the better.

  88. khms

    Ok, the important arguments seem to already have been made.

    So I will just quickly cover the mentioned legal situation in Germany.

    It may shock you to find out that the description was not one hundred percent correct!

    What’s true: the parliament made a law that is supposed to force internet providers to put up filters for a list of web sites that the federal police is supposed to create of web sites dealing in child pornography, and the effect is supposed to be to put up a web page with a stop sign and some explanatory text.

    It’s been mentioned more than once in the media that this is not exactly hard to circumvent. The politicians in question answer that it is essentially just a warning.

    There is not supposed to be any tracking of accesses.

    There has been significant opposition saying that if we know child porn websites, the right thing to do is not to try to block access, but to take down the web site in question.

    The law is currently waiting for the president to sign it. Normally, this is just a formality. In this case, the president has put it on hold and “requested clarifications”.

    Our government coalition just changed, replacing the social democrats with the liberals (in US terms more like libertarians) as a partner of the christian right (which the US christian right would probably consider socialists or even communists, but they *are* our conservatives). Mind you, the family minister whose child this law is is a member of the party that didn’t get exchanged.

    Unsurprisingly, the liberals were in sharp opposition to the law.

    It seems that the current coalition does not currently intend to press the progress of that law, and instead “is working on” plans to actually get those web sites taken down. (I wonder what they think that would take, apart from giving more money to law enforcement so the people working on this don’t need to instead be made to work in terrorism prevention. It certainly seems that the other means are there, judging by the regular news of police taking down yet another child porn ring, often with lots of international cooperation. Possibly what they are working on is a way of getting rid of the embarrassment that law has become. I seem to recall that the minister in question is currently leading a different ministry (after our former defense minister resigned from his new ministry because of serious stupidity while a minister of defense), that may be the first step …)

    In any case, it currently seems doubtful that the law in question will ever get signed.

  89. mike burkhart

    Your right most Christan Churchs don’t forbid vacccines I can tell you the Catholic Church dose not forbid vaccines

  90. mike burkhart

    Your right most Christan Churchs don’t forbid vacccines I can tell you the Catholic Church dose not forbid vaccines

  91. mena

    That’s an amazing coincidence, like how my sister was “allergic” to all of the foods that she didn’t like. She claimed that well into her 20’s, until she realized that people didn’t believe her. Maybe there should be more focus on how ridiculous (and very childish, almost babyish) claiming that not being able to do or eat something due to religious beliefs really is. As everyone here knows, too often stuff like that is held in some sort of weird esteem because offending someone’s religion is off limits.

  92. amphiox

    “But, as people who has been to the more remote areas of the Himalayas can testify, amongst the rural population one can find a rather nonchalant attitude to personal hygiene. There are very practical reasons for that: It is cold because of the altitude, and firewood is VERY expensive.”

    The cold climate also limits bacterial growth, which possible blunts some of the negative impact of poor hygiene practice. (It also limits human population growth, keeping population densities low and again limiting the possible detriments of poor hygiene practice)

  93. amphiox

    “consider that what you are really comparing is not getting vaccinated versus not getting vaccinated, but the risk of side effects from the vaccine versus the risk of whatever the virus will do to you should you get it”

    More specifically you are comparing: (risk of side effects from vaccine) + (risk of contracting the disease despite vaccination)*(total risk of harm from the disease) versus (risk of contracting the disease without vaccination)*(total risk of harm from the disease)

    The risk of contracting the disease without vaccination goes down as vaccination becomes more prevalent thanks to herd immunity, and there comes a point where it might drop so low that it no longer pays for an individual to vaccinate, provided everyone else vaccinates, which can get us into a tragedy of the commons situation, thus making necessary collective efforts to persuade or mandate vaccination.

    Note that smallpox vaccination is not routine anymore, precisely because the risk of contracting the disease without vaccination has dropped so low that the total risk of harm from smallpox without vaccination has dropped below the risk of harm of getting the vaccination.

  94. Kutsuwamushi

    I can see them being exempt if they are allergic to eggs

    I don’t think that they should be exempt even if there’s a physical reason that they can’t have the vaccine. The lives of the children in their care are the priority; if they can’t, for whatever reason, get the vaccine, they should work elsewhere.

    It sucks, but sometimes people simply can’t meet the requirements for a job and have to find work elsewhere.

  95. Elmar_M

    [quote]That’s not true. The vaccines are not 100% effective, so even complete vaccination will not guarantee that some nasty bug doesn’t come in and kill off people[/quote].
    Thats what herd immunity is for. Even if you can not get vaccinated or, if for some reason the vaccination does not work on you, you are still save, because of herd immunity.
    Of course there can only be a herd immunity if enough people have been vaccinated. This is why I totally see certain jobs requiring immunisation.
    I would also include government jobs such as, but not limited to police officers, firemen and ambulance drivers.
    I got my flu shot this year. It was actually the multipart shot. I am still alive, no sign of dementia or autism. I do feel a slight anger at certain people though that refuse to do their part to protect the lives of the innocent (e.g. children that cant make the choice to get vaccinated).

  96. ozprof

    I totally disagree with BA here. Forcing people to choose between their religious beliefs and work IS persecution. What next……… Firing people because their religion stops them from joining a union? Oh too late, that already happens. Fire someone because their beliefs do not let them work on certain days…? Oh too late…. this already happens……. One could go on ad nausium! Using coercion for force someone to violate their religious beliefs is VERY dangerous. For WHO DECIDES what is acceptable or not? eg, the BA is not raising his daughter to be a vegetarian, yet repeated studies have shown that vegetarians life longer and healthier lives. So, using the BA’s reasoning, his daughter should be taken away from him and he should be charge with child abuse!

    Just for the record, I have been vaccinated and the hospitals that my church runs do vaccinations. I do not know of any Christian churches that as a denomination are against vaccinations, although there may be.

  97. For those of you reacting in shock over the hand washing rule, that was not int the article. It was (unless I misread it) a “Reductio ad absurdum” by Phil to show how ridiculous the refusal to be vaccinated. He clearly labeled it as such.

    – Jack

  98. gstrahan

    I am a critical care nurse. I have not and will not take the vaccine for the regular flu or H1N1. I haven’t taken the flu vaccine for about 10 years. The last time I had the flu was about a month after the last time I took the vaccine. Of the nurses that I work with, maybe 30% have taken it. The numbers are the same for doctors. If medical personnel are refusing to take this vaccine, maybe you should rethink your position.

    Other than my belief that the vaccine is ineffective and possibly dangerous, you don’t own me. You, the government or my employer may not force me to take this substance into my person. I read a poll a couple of months ago where less than 40% of the general population was planning to take the vaccine. Of those same people, 84% would force this on medical personnel. WTF? When people choose to enter the medical profession they don’t give up the right to control their own physical beings.

    Many of my co-workers and I have all agreed, if the hospital we work for gives us the option to leave or vaccinate, we will leave. So, if you find yourself in need of intensive care and there is no one there to take care of you, you can blame all the people who don’t respect the individual sovereignty of the people in the medical profession.

  99. Claire

    First of all, why did the hospital honor some religious exemptions of some of its employees but not others? Check the religious exemption laws for the state of Pennsylvania. I hope some astute attorney has picked up on this and pursuing this issue. Also, personal religious beliefs that are not associated with any organized religion are accepted as religious beliefs. This has been established in legal precedent in the U.S.A. The hospital has been discriminatory in accepting only some religious exemptions. Also, previous vaccination history is irrelevant to claiming a current religious exemption and also has legal precedent in the U.S.A.

  100. James B

    @ Ozprof

    I disagree with you quite strongly on your point there. Its not religious discrimination to prohibit unvaccinated workers to work in a hospital, in a situation where communicable diseases are all too common and herd immunity plays a paramount role in keeping patients safe and healthy (whether they are childen, adult or elderly; the first and last groups being most at risk and therefore needing the most stringent adherence to any additional safety rules).

    By refusing to get a vaccine and then working in a hospital in this case, the mere presence of such a worker presents a health risk to all the patients in the hospital. I think it is absurd that because of this person’s choice not to be vaccinated, that the patients lives should be put at risk.

    And I’m sorry, you can’t just wave the flag or religious descrimination and hope it scares people away, this has nothing to do with religion. Anyone, regardless of religion, would be required to have a vaccine to work in such an institution. If you allow religious workers to work there unvaccinated, but refuse non-religious workers a job due to non-vaccination, then yes that is discrimination against the non-religious, because then your religiosity (or lack of it) would actually be a determining factor, whereas at the moment it has nothing to do with whether you can have the job or not.

    Maybe you suggest then that the answer is to remove all vaccination requirements to work in such a facility, and if so, let the blood be on your hands. Good luck washing that off in the bathroom.

  101. Grego

    Sorry, Ozprof. You’re stretching WAY too far for a sensible analogy here.

    “Forcing people to choose between their religious beliefs and work IS persecution.”

    Wrong, dude. The right to religious freedom does not imply the right to inflict harm on others in the practice of that religion. Period. I think we had enough of that back in the good old days of the Inquisitions. I’m sure plenty of Fundamentalists of most all faiths would love to go back to that old time religion™ of stonings, burnings & torture in the name of their faith. Which is EXACTLY why our legal system is kept separated from religious doctrines. Muslims in this country, after all, still have to abide by that law and not Sharia. Are we persecuting Islamic husbands who believe it’s their right to kill a wife they suspect of infidelity?

    If these people can’t abide by basic standards of medical safety, they need to find another trade. Calling this “persecution” is just silly. Heath care professionals have an obligation to protect those under their care & that supercedes their so-called religious standards. Otherwise, they’re more than welcome to practice that belief in some other profession.

  102. One thing I had wondered about, that the BA’s link didn’t specify but was mentioned in the article linked by mattand (#60), was whether protective masks were an alternative to the vaccine. Apparently, CHOP is not allowing masks as an alternative. This raises another question, which neither article mentioned: Was there an option to move the employees to position/areas with zero patient interaction?

    Personally, I feel that all healthcare workers, whether they have patient contact or not, should be required to be vaccinated. At my hospital, that’s the case, starting with employees having contact with the highest-risk patients, then employees having interaction with any patients, then all other hospital employees, so long as supply lasts. Employees who have egg allergies or who refuse the vaccine, I believe, are required to wear masks at all times when they are in patient areas, and my understanding is that the masks are rather uncomfortable.

    I find it unconscionable that healthcare workers, who should know better, are refusing immunization.

    Oh, and to the person citing mercola, I advise you read sites that are based on fact. The CDC, FDA and AAP web sites would be a good start. Also, read Science-Based Medicine and antiantivax.flurf.net.

  103. Kaleberg

    The classic example is the military. Most soldiers spend their entire careers in the service without killing anyone, but if some one finds moral or psychological reasons that make them unable to kill, that is considered grounds for separation. This is why Quakers, for example, who have strict rules against killing, unlike many mainstream religions, do not go into the armed forces.

    Working in a hospital means being around unhealthy people, and that entails a whole slew of hygienic precautions including washing one’s hands fifty times a day, wearing funny robes and getting various vaccinations. One may even have to provide medical care to persons one considers reprehensible or immoral. It’s part of the package.

    There are a number of jobs like this. If you want a job with no social responsibilities, go into finance.

  104. Gary Ansorge

    68. Juergen

    At a football game between Yale and HArvard, two young men, one from each college, went to the restroom. One washed his hands after urinating. The other didn’t. The first turned to the second and commented “At Yale, we’re taught to wash our hands after urinating.”

    The other responded with “At Harvard, we’re taught not to urinate on our hands.”

    There’s also the other punch line, wherein the second says ” Hey, my hands may have been contaminated, which is why I wash before I urinate. After all, I know where my penis has been all day.”

    Gary 7

  105. ausduck

    gstrahan@#101:

    As a private citizen I respect your right not to “take that substance into your person”
    As a critical care nurse, however, I would have to question your dedication to the health and wellbeing of your patients, who are especially vulnerable if they are indeed in the critical care units. You may not get sick from H1N1, but vaccination could lessen the chance of inadvertantly spreading it to your vulnerable patients, those people that you are paid to care for. Do you feel the same way about pertussis, HepB, or any of the other diseases we require boosters for?
    Your employer most certainly does have the right to insist on certain standards and requirements for continued contractual employment. And you most certainly have the right of voting with your feet if your current employer decides to insist.
    As to asking people to think twice if the medical community don’t want to take this particular vaccination, I would be questioning what information those medical professionals are basing their opinion on. It is good to question, don’t get me wrong, but the sources of information must be critically evaluated.
    And as a nurse, I personally find the threat of “not having intensive care professionals to care for you” if you are ‘forced’ to have vaccinations to be a morally bankrupt statement from a member of the nursing profession.

  106. James B

    What ausduck said.

    I am aghast at the notion of a health care worker, someone who’s professional priority is the physical wellbeing of their patient, would intentionally put both their patients and co-workers at risk by not being vaccinated. Like ausduck said, if you don’t like this policy you are free to leave. If you eschew personal and (more importantly) herd immunity, perhaps its time to seek out a different profession anyway?

  107. daveo

    re. gstrahan

    Why did you become a nurse? It couldn’t have been a desire to help people and I hear the money’s not great so that cant be it.

    Perhaps you shouldn’t wait for your your hospital to force the issue and leave now. You obviously don’t have the qualities of caring and selflessness the nursing profession demands and is so well known for.

    btw. what’s the name of the hospital you work in? I’m sure we’d all like to know

  108. Nigel Depledge

    Crow (40) said:

    WE have no idea any of the side effect of the swing flu vaccination and we survived the swine flu scare of the 70’s.

    So, you seem on the one hand to be saying that the vaccination campaign in the 70s was successful, and on the other hand that we don’t know what the side effects of a vaccine will be, despite the fact that we have been making flu vaccines for – what? – at least 40 years.

    The vaccine against the H1N1 pandemic flu is exactly the same as modern seasonal flu shots, apart from the epitopes against which the antibodies are raised. If you have an egg allergy, you should not have this shot. Otherwise, the benefit of vaccination substantially outweighs the risk.

  109. Nigel Depledge

    Adam_Y (44) said:

    I’m guessing the religious reason for people not vaccinating involves the cell lines that were used to make the vaccines. Its been reported on Skepchick but somehow someway the religious managed to make this into an abortion issue namely because the religious are complaining that the cell lines were clones of someone who had an abortion.

    If that is what the fanatics have indeed been saying, then they are so “not even wrong”. Flu vaccines are made in chicken eggs.

  110. Nigel Depledge

    MadScientist (89) said:

    @zandperl #88:

    That’s not true.

    Well, I agree that zandperl oversimplified the situation.

    The vaccines are not 100% effective, so even complete vaccination will not guarantee that some nasty bug doesn’t come in and kill off people.

    Nothing can be guaranteed. However, vaccination has several effects and you seem to be considering only one.

    You seem to think that if the vaccine does not provide absolute immunity from infection then it has failed. But in most of those cases where vaccination has not given rise to absolute immunity, the vaccination does mean that the virus causes a milder case than would otherwise have occurred, and it also results in a less infectious pathogen.

    Another effect that you have omitted from your consideration is herd immunity. We don’t need for vaccinations to be 100.00000% effective. All we need is for enough people to be protected that the infection cannot spread within the community or group being considered.

    The exemption to egg allergy must be due to traces of albumin in the vaccine and known severe side-effects. You do need some plan in place just in case the unvaccinated staff do catch whatever it is you’re vaccinating against,

    True, but what proportion of your staff is likely to have a legitimate reason for avoiding the shot?

    but as I said, the very bug you believe you’re vaccinating against can come in and infect some vaccinated folks too. In the case of the flu, thanks to rapid mutation, H1N1 can conceivably come in and infect every vaccinated person.

    Erm… How much virology have you studied? Sure, flu mutates rapidly, which is why we need a new seasonal flu shot each year, but the most labile sites for mutation of the flu virus are the haemaglutinin (H)and neuraminidase (N) surface proteins. If these mutate, then it ceases to be H1N1, and becomes some other serotype.

    Typically, mutations on this scale are accompanied by changes of virulence, which, for the present H1N1 strain, is most likely to result in a less virulent form of it. You cannot have your cake and eat it, so to speak.

    This is a case of taking reasonable precautions; refusing a vaccine based on personal beliefs of any sort is not reasonable and the hospital has a duty to its shareholders to get rid of such people; if not, the insurance companies will not pay up if a lawsuit did come about.

    Agreed.

  111. Nigel Depledge

    Ozprof (99) said:

    I totally disagree with BA here. Forcing people to choose between their religious beliefs and work IS persecution.

    Not so, and a previous commenter pointed out that the 1st amendment contains a provision where a pressing secular reason can overrule religious freedom.

    Freedom of religion stops as soon as it impacts on other people. Are there any Incas in the USA who practice human sacrifice? No, I don’t think so. But if there were, would you insist on giving them the freedom to undertake religious practices that impact so obviously on other people?

    What next……… Firing people because their religion stops them from joining a union? Oh too late, that already happens.

    No, those people were fired because they did not join the union. The reason why they didn’t join the union is irrelevant, therefore it ain’t religious persecution.

    Fire someone because their beliefs do not let them work on certain days…? Oh too late…. this already happens…….

    Wrong again. People who refuse to work the standard hours kept by a company, for whatever reason, should expect to be fired.

    One could go on ad nausium!

    Actually, you haven’t started. Those people were not being discriminated against – they were treated exactly as anyone else would be treated who refused to join the union, or work on those days, or whetever.

    What you seem to be objecting to is, in fact, an absence of positive discrimination protecting the practices of individual religions. I.e. you seem to be insisting that people’s religion should give them the right to dictate exactly how and when they interact with the rest of the community in which they live and work.

    Imagine a world in which you have laws that give people such rights.

    How soon do you think it would be before there was a religion that required its people to work no more than one day a week, but to get paid as if they had worked the entire week?

    How soon do you think it would be before someone set up a religion that insisted that a person should be able to have sex with whomever they chose, irrespective of the other person’s wishes?

    And so on.

    Using coercion for force someone to violate their religious beliefs is VERY dangerous.

    No-one is forcing these people to violate their religious beliefs. Their religious practices render them incapable of doing their job effectively. No-one forced them to take that line of work in the first place. I’m sure there are other ways in which they can earn a lving without compromising their religious practices.

    For WHO DECIDES what is acceptable or not?

    Actually, every employer makes the assessment of who is and who is not capable of doing the job every time they recruit. And most employers have regular reviews in which shortcomings can be addressed. But in most cases, failure to do the job correctly or effectively is grounds for getting fired.

    eg, the BA is not raising his daughter to be a vegetarian, yet repeated studies have shown that vegetarians life longer and healthier lives. So, using the BA’s reasoning, his daughter should be taken away from him and he should be charge with child abuse!

    Your analogy is irrelevant. Society as a whole, through the medium of representative government, decides what is or is not acceptable in such instances. However, when it comes to an employer deciding who is capable of doing a job correctly and effectively, the decision rests with the employer. Obviously there needs to be a valid reason for sacking someone, but this looks like a valid reason.

    Your disagreement seems not to be with the reason, but with the principle. And you’re wrong. It is only religious persecution if someone is treated ill for no reason other than their religion. I suspect that the ex-employees were given a straightforward choice: if you don’t get vaccinated, you can’t work in the hospital any more.

  112. gstrahan

    I’ve read quite a bit about vaccines, a good place to start is google books “Horrors of Vaccination” It is a book from 1920 written to abolish compulsory vaccination in the army and navy. There is also a documentary “Vaccine Nation” that is on Google video. The video is from recent cases. The way we do things hasn’t really changed much.

    The vaccines given to our military men and women has been linked to Gulf War Syndrome. The have removed mercury from some of the vaccines, but they replaced it with aluminum, squaline and formaldehyde. Taking vaccines are like playing Russian roulette. Maybe you’ll be ok, maybe you won’t.

    There have also been studies on the Amish, where their children are rarely vaccinated. The only autism they found was in a couple of children that were vaccinated before the entered the Amish community.

    Our system is so corrupt, the pharmaceutical companies finance all the studies on current vaccines, They get whatever results they want. Then many of the people who work for the FDA, have worked for the pharmaceuticals or when they leave the FDA, they go to work for them. In a recent New York Times article titled “Mutating vaccine causes polio outbreak in Nigeria” the WHO admits the vaccine causes the problem, then says the only way to stop it is to continue administering the vaccine. REALLY… Stop drinking the Kool-aid people. There is a plethera of information on the anti side of this debate. Many of us will not agree on wether it is the correct thing to do to take these vaccines. What I try to do is get people to respect each sovereign individuals right to govern themselves.

    BTW, if you really want to give yourself a leg up on the flu, take vitamin D and vitamin C daily. It’s more effective than the flu shot.

  113. Rob

    @Ozprof — Our society cannot function if everyone gets to fulfill all the little whims of their various silly little faiths. In none of the cases that you mentioned were people fired for their religious beliefs — they were fired for not living up to the duties that were required for their job. What you are suggesting is that the religious ought to get special treatment in the workplace. For example — a Christian fellow and I are both scheduled to work on Christmas day. The Christian decides not to come in because it is in violation of his religious beliefs, whereas I decide not to come in simply because I am lazy. According to your line of reasoning, I should get fired, while the Christian should not be reprimanded. This is blatant and obvious discrimination. We need to have the same set of rules for everyone. If those rules violate your religion, you can either get rid of the religion or work somewhere else — it is not your boss’s concern either way.

  114. @gstrahan

    First off, vitamin D is not more effective than the flu shot. If you already have adequate levels of vit. D, taking more won’t do anything. An analogy I read once was that it’s like filling up your car’s gas tank. If it’s already full, adding more isn’t going to make your car go further. If you are deficient in vitamin D, then taking supplements will help once you are infected, but it will not prevent infection, and you may still have complications. If memory serves, vitamins C won’t do squat.

    Second, you seem to have read a lot of misinformation. Please take a visit to The Truth About the Evils of Vaccination for some facts, such as that squalene is not used in any U.S. vaccines and that vaccines are not implicated in Gulf War Syndrome. Science-Based Medicine is also a good reference. Click on their Topic-Based Reference tab at the top right and follow the links to the appropriate topic.

    As for the polio vaccine, it is a recognized problem and one that needs to be dealt with. Up to now, the vaccine has been very successful at eradicating polio from the majority of the world. Where we go now that the benefits not longer outweigh the risks is a critical question that we need to answer. The inactivated polio vaccines are not as effective, but have a much better safety profile. So, that is probably where we’re going to go for regions still suffering from polio, if we can get vaccination rates up, that is. Unlike oral polio vaccine, IPV protection can’t be spread to others who have not received it.

    At any rate, read the link I provided.

  115. Heather

    @80! I agree you call yourself a scientist, okay, well a Doctor and you and your pal Jennie McCarthy recommend against vaccinations! (yes I am calling out Dr. Sears, someone needs to).
    I will add, some of these same Morons, I mean people, decide to vaccinate, but only 1 per month so the immune system does not become comprimised(again no scientific research was done on this). The best part, they take the mumps vaccination month 1, measles month 2, and rubella month 3, and guess what? It is a waste because in recieving the shots this waym they never build up immunity. They wasted their time. Maybe this is the reason pharmas are NO longer making the individual shots because the medical professionals giving them do not follow the regime?
    As for the hospital workers fired while others were not; perhaps the rationale (if it is even true) is that until H1N1, these people happily had recieved allvaccinations while the other nonfired, have never recieved a vaccination for anything. I would argue that for them it is a religious chioce, others are just using religion as a cover.
    It often happens in schools now, if you look up anti vaccination websites , they all tell you to just object for religious reasons as it is the easiest way to keep your child from being vaccinated. In fact in NC, if your child has autism you are automatically excused from vaccinations if you choose to do so! Most states public schools will also allow nonvaccinated children into school as long as the parent signs the little space that states I reject for religious reasons.

  116. Heather

    One more thing, Thank YOU for this article! Finally, someone with a brain! I think I LOVE you!

  117. Steve in Dublin

    @crow #40

    Indeed, this Dr. Mercola seems to be the kind of doctor I wouldn’t want to be a patient of. He goes on about ‘mounting debilities and deaths’ but conveniently neglects to tell you that the odds of this happening to any particular individual are extremely small. That’s just sowing FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt).

    From the Wikipedia entry for Guillain-Barre Syndrome:

    From October 6 to November 24, 2009, the U.S. CDC, through the VAERS reporting system, received ten reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome cases associated with the H1N1 vaccine and identified two additional probable cases from VAERS reports (46.2 million doses were distributed within the U.S. during this time). Only four cases, however, meet the Brighton Collaboration Criteria for Guillain-Barré syndrome, while four do not meet the criteria and four remain under review.

    So from 46.2 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine that were administered, we have 4 confirmed cases of GBS (and another 4 possible, still under review). That’s at worst a 42.6/8 = 1 in 5.8 million chance of contracting GBS, and most people make a full recovery from that. That’s as opposed to the chance of contracting and *dying from* the H1N1 flu. I’m not sure what the exact odds on that eventuality are, but they are certainly much, much higher than 1 in 5.8 million (though it depends on the standard of medical care in the country where you contract it).

    And as a previous poster said, citing Mercola as a source is instant FAIL here.

  118. Nigel Depledge

    gstrahan (101) said:

    I am a critical care nurse. I have not and will not take the vaccine for the regular flu or H1N1. I haven’t taken the flu vaccine for about 10 years. The last time I had the flu was about a month after the last time I took the vaccine.

    What are you aying here? That the vaccine caused your flu? If you are, that’s wrong.

    It was most likely a coincidence, that you caught a strain of flu that was different from the one against which you had been inoculated.

    Of the nurses that I work with, maybe 30% have taken it. The numbers are the same for doctors. If medical personnel are refusing to take this vaccine, maybe you should rethink your position.

    I’ve heard stats like this before, and I don’t buy it as a reason.

    Of course, if the doctors themselves are not taking the shot, then it undermines the position of the epidemiologists who can confirm that vaccination is the best approach. But that does not mean that the doctors are right.

    Other than my belief that the vaccine is ineffective and possibly dangerous, you don’t own me.

    Irrelevant. Your employer owns your time, and can change your working conditions when there is a reason to do so.

    You, the government or my employer may not force me to take this substance into my person.

    So, I am beginning to understand why so many infections are caught in hospitals. Do you really have no sense of responsibility?

    I read a poll a couple of months ago where less than 40% of the general population was planning to take the vaccine. Of those same people, 84% would force this on medical personnel. WTF?

    Do you really not get it?

    People who have the most severe infections need to be quarantined, but thay also need to be cared for. Those people caring for them are therefore at very high risk of becoming infected themselves.

    When people choose to enter the medical profession they don’t give up the right to control their own physical beings.

    True, but you also have a moral duty to do everything in your power to protect vulnerable patients.

    Many of my co-workers and I have all agreed, if the hospital we work for gives us the option to leave or vaccinate, we will leave.

    Why is that? Is it the mandatory nature of the process, or is it a fear of needles? I would have thought that, of all people, medical professionals would see the need to be vaccinated.

    So, if you find yourself in need of intensive care and there is no one there to take care of you, you can blame all the people who don’t respect the individual sovereignty of the people in the medical profession.

    Actually, I might be just as inclined to blame the bolshy nurses who care more about their “individual sovereignty” than they do about the people they have trained to care for. However, you seem to have missed the point that this is a paediatric hospital, where many of the patients are either too young to have recieved the inoculation or are immune-compromised in some way.

    In a similar vein, if there were no mandatory vaccination and I were to catch a serious infection while in hospital, should I blame the hospital authority for not forcing their staff to accept vaccination, or should I blame the staff who refused the offer of a free inoculation?

  119. Nigel Depledge

    Claire (102) said:

    The hospital has been discriminatory in accepting only some religious exemptions.

    Yes. The hospital should not accept any religious exemptions, because each one is a positive discrimination in favour of that religion.

  120. Nigel Depledge

    Todd W (105) said:

    Employees who have egg allergies or who refuse the vaccine, I believe, are required to wear masks at all times when they are in patient areas, and my understanding is that the masks are rather uncomfortable.

    As I understand it, for a mask that is intended to prevent ingress and egress of viruses, it needs to have an extremely fine filter. Driving air in and out of the mask will therefore be very hard work.

  121. @Nigel Depledge

    As I understand it, for a mask that is intended to prevent ingress and egress of viruses, it needs to have an extremely fine filter. Driving air in and out of the mask will therefore be very hard work.

    Not to mention, I imagine that such masks are not exactly cheap.

  122. Gonzo

    If its publicly funded with our tax dollars, that means the government is forcing people to get vaccinations otherwise they lose their jobs. That’s a bit scary.

    Maybe if it were a requirement to work in a gas station. Maybe then. Nope. Not even then. If you think vaccinations are scary . . . well . . . I don’t know what to tell you, other than they are not.

    Take off the tin-foil hat. Join us in reality.

  123. Doug

    I’m coming in way late on this, but I was curious about the people saying they could not get vaccinations due to being Christians. This is ludicrous and insulting to millions of Christians. As near as I can tell, only Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses USED TO have a problem with vaccinations. In both cases, the leadership of each now says it is up to the individual. So in a way, it is only the old-fashioned, “fundamentalist” CS’s or JW’s that hold to this opinion, even though the leadership of their own church does not! This strikes me as similar to the polygamists who are “fundamentalist” Mormons because the LDS church USED TO hold this belief, though they sure as heck don’t now!

    So the reports should not say they are Christians without saying what wacko sect they belong to. Anybody can say they are anything.

  124. John Sandlin

    What I want to know is “How do you work in a hospital and not understand modern medicine?”

    That’s like working for NASA and believing the world is flat.

    jbs

  125. Kate

    @gastrahan
    A) I would not consider a book that is 90 years old and was written with a particular agenda in mind to be a valid source of scientific information.
    B) There is no clear, causative link between vaccination and Gulf War Syndrome. The soldiers were exposed to a lot of different situations all or none of which may have played a role.
    C) Again, the Amish have such a different lifestyle from the majority of Americans that saying a lower rate of autism is due to their anti-vaccination stance is invalid. Furthermore, the original article published in the Lancet, attributing autism to vaccines, was retracted. Again, correlation does not equal causation.
    D) Yes, pharmaceutical companies have a lot invested in vaccines (and drugs) and oversight may not be as tight as it should. Still, that is no reason to discount all of the good vaccination programs have done. I doubt any person would rather have smallpox still running loose, or widespread polio, just to avoid the potential dangers associated with the vaccine.
    E) A problem with the live polio vaccine is that the vaccinated can still shed the virus. Unvaccinated individuals can contract the disease from their vaccinated neighbors. So, yes, you would want to continue vaccination programs. As another poster said, the problem is being worked on.
    F) Just because many of us believe that vaccines are beneficial does not mean we are dumb cattle doing whatever the government tells us to do. We tend to weight the good and bad and decide, based on our individual situations, if a certain vaccine is necessary. I, for example, prefer limiting vaccinations for myself. Still, I get the flu vaccine since my baby brother has respiratory problems and I want him to have the best chance at protection possible. Sometimes, it isn’t about you and I would say any person in healthcare needs to remember that.

  126. @Geeves I don’t think it really matters if it is private or public. The government is not forcing them to get vaccinated, simply setting a condition of employment. A condition that is justifiable based on the risk they would be creating for their patients. If they don’t want to get vaccinated, OK they can find another job.

  127. TheBlackCat

    For the one or two people claiming that we cannot limit this because it is religious in nature, I suggest you look at the Lemon test, which is the standard test for religious discrimination in the U.S.:

    1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;
    2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
    3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    1 is clearly true here, or any case where someone is merely being required to do their job or take adequate safeguards when doing it. 2 is also true in such cases, since the primary effect is to guarantee that people do their job or do it safely. I think it is pretty clear that 3 is not the case, since people are able to get other jobs even in the same field, and I don’t think requiring basic standards of care could in any way be considered “excessive”.

  128. amphiox

    “the BA is not raising his daughter to be a vegetarian, yet repeated studies have shown that vegetarians life longer and healthier lives. So, using the BA’s reasoning, his daughter should be taken away from him and he should be charge with child abuse!”

    Sigh. . . . You repeat a point over and over again, and it is so simple that you think no one can possibly fail to understand, but then just a couple posts later you are rudely disabused of your prior high opinion of human intellect. Or maybe some people just can’t read.

    This example is exactly the same as the smoking example, and invalid for the same reasons.

    1. The magnitude of the benefit of the vegetarian lifestyle, or its exact association with the act of vegetarianism, or the likelihood that attempting to raise a child in such lifestyle will accrue any such benefit, remains in doubt and open to discussion.

    2. The act of taking a child away from his/her parent/caregiver causes great harm. You are blowing up the foundation of the child’s entire life, socially, financially, psychologically. It is only justified if the HARM OF NOT DOING SO IS EVEN GREATER.

    Physical and sexual abuse fits this criteria. It is just about the only thing that does.

    Second hand smoke DOES NOT FIT THE CRITERIA.
    Exposure to red meat DOES NOT FIT THE CRITERIA.
    Indoctrination into Christian Science, as bad as that is, DOES NOT FIT THE CRITERIA.

    In all spheres of activity concerning the welfare of children, the needs of the children supercede all other considerations. This includes the family. Parents do not have any rights with regard to their children – they have obligations and privileges. We allow parents leeway in their behavior towards their children and choice in the manner in which they raise them, even when such choices may impart some small harm to the child as opposed to some theoretical perfect parenting action, NOT because the parent’s right to choose such actions supercede the considerations for the child’s welfare, BUT because the small amount of harm that not definitely certain, is negated by the benefit of other actions and choices of the same parent, AND BECAUSE ANY CONCEIVABLE INTERVENTION THE STATE/SOCIETY CAN CONTEMPLATE DOES MORE HARM TO THE CHILD THAN DOING NOTHING. The fulcrum for making the decision is always, must always be, the welfare of the child.

  129. amphiox

    A clarification regarding Christian Science:

    Refusing to seek medical attention for a sick child does fit the criteria if the child is sufficiently sick. But teaching such beliefs to a well child who may or may not ever get sick enough to have his/her life threatened by a parent’s refusal to seek medical attention does not.

  130. Claire

    Aside from the “religious” exemption issue which can be argued forever,here are some reveiws for science-based evidence of flu vaccine effectiveness. Our society is heading down a path where we have become completely dependent on an artificial means of inducing “immunity” without evaluating long-term effects, independent safety reveiws (which are non-existent), efficacy and the newest phrase – “cost-effective medicine”.
    Do flu shots work?
    Not in healthy babies: A review of 51 studies involving more than 294,000 children
    it was found there was “no evidence that injecting children 6-24 months of age with a flu shot was
    any more effective than placebo. In children over 2 yrs, it was only effective 33% of the time in
    preventing the flu. Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children.” The
    Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2 (2008).

    Not in children with asthma: A study 800 children with asthma, half were
    vaccinated and the other half did not receive the influenza vaccine. The two groups were
    compared with respect to clinic visits, emergency department (ED) visits, and hospitalizations for
    asthma. CONCLUSION: This study failed to provide evidence that the influenza vaccine prevents
    pediatric asthma exacerbations. Reference: “Effectiveness of influenza vaccine for the prevention
    of asthma exacerbations.” Christly, C. et al. Arch Dis Child. 2004 Aug;89(8):734-5.

    Not in children with asthma (2): “The inactivated flu vaccine does not prevent
    influenza-related hospitalizations in children, especially the ones with asthma…In fact, children
    who get the flu vaccine are three times more at risk for hospitalization than children who do not
    get the vaccine.” Reference: The American Thoracic Society’s 105th International Conference,
    May 15-20, 2009, San Diego.

    Not in adults: In a review of 48 reports (more than 66,000 adults), “Vaccination of
    healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days
    by less than one day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go to hospital
    or take time off work.” Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults.” The
    Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1 (2006).

    Not in the Elderly: In a review of 64 studies over 98 flu seasons of elderly living in
    nursing homes, flu shots were non-significant for preventing the flu. For elderly living in the
    community, vaccines were not (significantly) effective against influenza, ILI or pneumonia.
    Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly.” The Cochrane Database of
    Systematic Reviews. 3(2006).

  131. Brad

    “However, one issue raised in the article is that some employees were granted exemption from the vaccinations and some weren’t. If that’s true, it’s unfair.”

    The exemptions I believe they are referring to are medical reasons such as an allergy to the flu vaccine.

  132. Mike Mullen

    “Our society is heading down a path where we have become completely dependent on an artificial means of inducing “immunity” without evaluating long-term effects, independent safety reveiws (which are non-existent”

    I see and when exactly did humans exhibit any meaninful natural immunity to influenza, smallpox, rubella etc? Oh that’s right, never!

  133. amphiox

    #133: I find it interesting that you have not mentioned the overall quality of the various studies you cite, which is something every Cochrane Review does, as pretty much the very first thing it reports. But, for the moment, accepting the numbers you post:

    33% is better than zero. 6% is better than zero. Over a large population in a single season, that means thousands of hours of reduced suffering, at the very least.

    And 1 less missed work day (or even 1 less missed work hour) for each working adult translates into a huge gain in productivity.

  134. amphiox

    I’ll also add that post #133 also fails to consider the entire other side of the equation, which is the low risk of the vaccine. If benefit, however small, outweighs risk, it is still justified.

  135. James

    Unusual, Fired for not doing as the boss says?
    There are good arguments for both of the sides.
    1. Does the boss pay for the employee to stay home if they get the shot, since the vacines produce antibodies in the person, that simulate a sickness? I feel that a paid 3 week vacation is in order. Don’t you think so?
    2. Many of the children are sick, ill, with various comprimised imune systems, shouldn’t they also have the shot while they are in the health care system, same with the administrators in the hospital, they are near the children, in the same structure, same with the parents and the visitors to the facility.
    3. And since it is known that there are those who cannot tolerate shots, Those who feel that a shot is a violation of their civil rights, or an imposition upon their wellbeing, and since this kind of flu is not a nacturally occuring flu, why take a chemical cocktail that may do more injury then good.

  136. Lawrence

    @James – the woo is strong with this one….

    Let’s see – #1 – the vaccine does not simulate the sickness, it creates an immune response (muted) that allows the body to develop the antigens necessary to fight off the real flu, if the person gets exposed to it. So no, the person doesn’t need 3 weeks off.

    #2 – If the child’s immune system is already compromised (such as HIV or AIDS) vaccines would do little or no good, since the immune system isn’t working correctly in the first place. Hence the need to keep people who have a very communicable disease away from them or take steps to immunize those people against the flu before they come in contact with the children.

    #3 – “Not naturally occuring flu?” That doesn’t make any sense. Do you think H1N1 was created in a lab or something? It is a variation on the traditional flu (like Spanish Flu was back in 1918 – or the 1976 Swine Flu) – it is different enough to warrant its own vaccine, but it sure is a “naturally” occuring diseases.

    If you work in a hospital, you should expect to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. If, at my job, I refused to take part in something necessary for the performance of my job, I would get fired – plain and simple – regardless of my thoughts on the matter. A job is a privilege – not a right.

  137. Nurse Grace

    I am an RN and I refuse to get the swine flu vaccine. There are many RNs offended that some hospitals – and some states, like NY – considering mandating we get these shots. As far as we are concerned, these vaccines are experimental, and there is a long history of women and nurses being experimented on. I remember what happened with the first Swine flu vaccines in 1976. No way will I get that one.

    You all are lay people and do not realize that we already have our titers of immunity to many diseases on file, we have received numerous routine vaccinations, &c, to prevent our catching and passing on infectious diseases to patients and coworkers. We are tested for HIV/AIDs regularly. We stand to catch diseases from YOU ALL, the public, not the other way around.

    I also believe there is bashing of nurses amongst feminists and those who read websites like Discovery – you know, we’re too damn dumb to get into medical school.

    Chill out. We put ourselves at risk every damn day we show up at work – exposure to infectious diseases, blood and body fluids, violence, demands, and injury from lifting and moving obese patients. We bust our ass to keep you all alive. Then we get trashed by you when we don’t get the ice water fast enough.

    By the way, RNs get disciplined all the time and we can lose our jobs for calling in sick. Yes, it is true. Having a good union helps, but not all RNs are unionized.

  138. James B

    #139

    A job is a privilege – not a right.

    A point so many people seem to miss. Most civilized countries enshrine a “Right to Employment”, but that’s a completely different playing field from arguing over entitlement to a particular job.

  139. Lawrence

    @Nurse Grace – I don’t think anyone here is bashing nurses in general – I have the utmost respect for RNs, they have a difficult job, are understaffed & overworked, and good ones should be treated as Saints.

    Now, I am a bit disturbed by the underlying tone of your message – H1N1, though we seem to be out from under the worst of it (so far), is a very communicable disease. RNs, particularly in emergency rooms, are going to get exposed multiple times to uninsured people who probably have it (since many of these people are forced to use ERs as their doctor).

    Doesn’t it make sense to get immunized against something that could potentially put you out of business for a week or more (especially given the issues I’ve stated above – lack of staff, etc)? You mention 1976 (again) – there have been very few (1 – 5.8million I believe is the statistic quoted above) side-effects, and in this case, as opposed to 1976, millons of people have contracted H1N1.

  140. ausduck

    @gastrahan: I agree with Kate@#128, I cannot believe that a health care professional can trot out such unscientific dribble. Your assignments for your degree must have been very interesting if you are fond of quoting texts from 80 years ago. And you have obviously uncritically bought the whole antivaccination misinformation and pseudoscience hook line & sinker. Do you even have a rudimentary understanding of pathophysiology? Squalene is produced by the human body every day, in fact, most living things produce squalene.

    @Nurse Grace #140 Please be careful making generalist statements “you are all lay people” I most certainly am not, if by “laypeople” you mean non-nurses. I am a RN, and have been one for some time. Vaccination is not a feminist issue. It is one of public health, pure and simple. And whilst I am vaccinated for my own protection, I am also realistic enough to realise it’s a two way street – it protects my patients from me as well.

  141. ausduck

    I have to add- in my neck of the world the fluvax and the H1N1 vax are not compulsory, only the schedule of diseases as set by the public health authority that employs me. Having said that, my employer provides the fluvax and the H1N1 vax for free for any employee that wishes to be vaccinated. In my particular area, the uptake has been close to 90%. So far, no deaths, no bad reactions, no nothing – we’re all still here.

  142. @Nurse Grace

    To reiterate what Lawrence said, I, too, have great respect for the men and women working as nurses for all the crap they need to put up with. That said, you are, quite simply, wrong, when it comes to a couple things you said about the flu vaccine.

    1) It is not experimental. The flu vaccine has been around for decades. The only thing that changes each year is the antigen used. That goes for the H1N1 vaccine, too. It’s the same as the seasonal flu, just using a different antigen.

    2) You make a suggestion that the 1976 vaccine was horrendous. I urge you to do a bit more reading and number crunching. The situation was handled horribly, yes, but the vaccine actually did not have a significant risk to it. For reference, read the info on the flu vaccine at antiantivax.flurf.net, as well as the links within the text there.

    Finally, if you can lose your job for calling in sick, why would you then take the risk of getting sick by not being inoculated against the flu? That makes absolutely no sense.

  143. Dawn

    As an RN, CNM, and currently health insurance employee, I am appalled at the nurses who refuse vaccines. If I am sick enough to be in the hospital, my immune system is already compromised and I don’t need to be infected by Nurse “anyone” who is carrying the flu.

    I can also say from good experience that many, many nurses come to work sick because they can’t afford to be home ill. (Yes, they are sent home if caught, but in my own experience I can point to a nurse in a NEWBORN NURSERY who came in with a 102 fever and worked almost all night – she didn’t admit to the fever until one of us accidentally touched her). Union or no union, nurses need to be encouraged to stay home if they are ill, and to take all vaccines that are offered unless contraindicated.

    Personally, I, too, would like to know the hospitals that Nurse Grace and gastrahan work in so I can avoid going there. I don’t want to risk either of them taking care of ME when I’m sick.

    By the way….the Amish DO vaccinate, they DO have children with autism. If you would read books written by healthcare provider who work with the Amish, you will know that they utilize appropriate healthcare. (Try A Midwife’s Story by Penny Armstrong, or Dr. Frau by Dr Grace Kaiser). I get so tired of people quoting Dan Olmsted’s erroneous information.

  144. Daffy

    Todd W.,

    While I am 100% in favor of vaccines, the 1976 debacle was pretty horrendous. Plus, I personally had a VERY bad reaction to the vaccine (which has never happened to me before or since) and then caught the flu anyway.

    As I say, I am 100% in favor of vaccines…but we do need to acknowledge when things do go wrong so we can avoid the same mistakes.

  145. Lawrence

    @Daffy – I’ve never seen anyone say vaccines are 100% effective or 100% safe (there will always be a certain number of side-effects & people that either can’t get them or the vaccination isn’t effective).

    Overall, the benefits from a robust vaccination program far, far, far outstrip the negative aspects.

    People have gone on and on about 1976 – but those mistakes were readily acknowledged and learned from – and we got lucky in that version of the Swine Flu petered out very quickly.

  146. @Daffy

    As I said, it was handled horribly. However, it was not nearly as bad as the fear-mongers would have us believe, especially after looking at the actual numbers of how many doses were given and how many AEs were reported. I also freely admit that the QC on the vaccine was not good. However, it was a very unique situation, and one which does not compare to the current one. My point is not to gloss over the problems with the ’76 vaccine, but rather to put it into perspective.

  147. zug

    They might as well say that their religion requires them to kill children at random. Working around kids with immune deficiency without taking every possible precaution to avoid exposing them to disease is akin to killing them.

  148. BAH!

    Washing your hands after going to the bathroom is HIGHLY overrated. :-P

  149. Joey

    The bible says you can’t vaccinate? Is that a commandant I missed?

  150. intrstd

    Vaccines are NOT equal to “washing your hands”
    soap and water have existed for many years and to my knowledge has never harmed anyone the way vaccines have.

  151. Kevin

    The health care workers I know felt that this vaccine was rushed thru the system & not quite safe. Maybe they didn’t want THEIR health or lives put in jeopardy. This is AMERICA isn’t it ?

  152. Kevin

    The premise is absurd. Comparing the two is laughable.

  153. Wes M

    For those of you who are questioning the safety of the flu vaccine, I don’t see any data, just anecdotes. The whole point of this article relates to health care workers being around kids who have diminished immunity…I am sure if your child was hospitalized you would want every available preventative measure taken by everyone who could possibly transmit any virus or bacteria to your child.

    It is alarming that some of you who claim to work in hospitals are refusing vaccines – I vow to bring in my own box of Clorox wipes and wipe down everything that I see touched by nurses and doctors that might come in contact with me…and bring my own masks.

  154. Please, help me out here, I’m ignorant:

    1. Does the swine flu vaccination prevent infection 100% of the time?

    2. Is the swine flu vaccination 100% safe?

    3. If there are any complications, does the hospital assume 100% liability?

  155. Mark P

    Comparing vaccinations to hand-washing is erroneous, as vaccines are themselves potentially life-threatening. Who would be protecting the health-care staff in this instance?

    I cannot see why health-care staff would refuse on religious grounds. Sounds like inaccurate reporting to me.

  156. James B

    @153

    Yeah I know, my brother once swallowed a chunk of soap and was throwing up bubbles for days! Thank goodness the H1N1 vaccination isn’t that bad.

  157. Nigel Depledge

    Gstrahan (115) said:

    I’ve read quite a bit about vaccines, a good place to start is google books “Horrors of Vaccination” It is a book from 1920 written to abolish compulsory vaccination in the army and navy.

    Hey, guess what? Vaccine technology has progressed in the last 89 years! A book written in 1920 could not possibly be relevant to today’s vaccines.

    There is also a documentary “Vaccine Nation” that is on Google video. The video is from recent cases. The way we do things hasn’t really changed much.

    Referencing a video “documentary” on the net is not really a good source. If you are serious, find the data from the primary literature on which that video was based and refer us to that.

    The vaccines given to our military men and women has been linked to Gulf War Syndrome. The have removed mercury from some of the vaccines, but they replaced it with aluminum, squaline and formaldehyde. Taking vaccines are like playing Russian roulette. Maybe you’ll be ok, maybe you won’t.

    First off, you meant squalene, not squaline.

    Second, another commenter has already addressed the speculation about a link between vaccination and GWS so I shan’t go into that.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you make no reference to dose. Drinking water contains aluminium. At sufficiently low levels that it is not harmful. Your own body synthesises squalene and formaldehyde. What is the concentration of these substances in the vaccine? To what dose does this equate for an adult? After all, you are talking about vaccination of service-men and -women, not of children. If you do your homework, you may indeed discover that the doses of these substances in the vaccines are trivial.

    There have also been studies on the Amish, where their children are rarely vaccinated. The only autism they found was in a couple of children that were vaccinated before the entered the Amish community.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. Not a valid argument.

    Our system is so corrupt, the pharmaceutical companies finance all the studies on current vaccines, They get whatever results they want.

    Absolute rubbish.

    I work in the biopharamceuticals industry and, while I cannot share details, I can tell you that you know nothing about the reality. A major pharamceuticals company expects most of their lead* compounds (whether small-molecule or biologic) to fail. A figure I have heard is that 95% of lead* compounds fail either in toxicology studies or in clinical trial.

    * That’s lead (“leed”) as in leading candidates for new drugs, nothing to do with the element Pb.

    So, most pharma companies want to find out as soon as possible if there are any toxicological or pharmacokinetic issues with a drug candidate, so they have not wasted time on putting it through early-phase clinical trials only to have it fail in phase III. They need their information to be as accurate and reality-based as possible.

    Then many of the people who work for the FDA, have worked for the pharmaceuticals or when they leave the FDA, they go to work for them.

    There is no way to fast-track experience. It does not surprise me that experience in the pharma industry qualifies one to work for the FDA. As a manufacturer of biopharmaceuticals, my employers know that any FDA inspectors who used to work in the biopharma industry will know exactly where and how to find any shortcomings in our quality systems. And we cannot pull the wool over their eyes.

    In a recent New York Times article titled “Mutating vaccine causes polio outbreak in Nigeria” the WHO admits the vaccine causes the problem, then says the only way to stop it is to continue administering the vaccine.

    Yes, did you have a point? Polio vaccine has long been known to be less than ideal, but it’s still far better than allowing polio to run rampant. The only reason that we are able to state that the vaccine caused the outbreak is because the vaccination programme has all but eradicated polio, so there is almost no background or “wild type” incidence of polio.

    Besides, think on this: polio would have been eradicated worldwide 4 or 5 years ago had it not been for the activities of antivax campaigners in Nigeria.

    REALLY… Stop drinking the Kool-aid people.

    Erm … pot, kettle?

    There is a pleth[o]ra of [mis-]information on the anti side of this debate.

    Fixed that for you.

    Many of us will not agree on wether it is the correct thing to do to take these vaccines. What I try to do is get people to respect each sovereign individuals right to govern themselves.

    No such right exists.

    By refusing to be vaccinated, people are endangering others. No-one should have that right. The more we learn about epidemiology, the clearer the picture becomes. Vaccination is the most successful medical intervention known.

    BTW, if you really want to give yourself a leg up on the flu, take vitamin D and vitamin C daily. It’s more effective than the flu shot.

    Well, this is simply a lie. I reserve the right to laugh and point at anyone who believes this.

  158. Nigel Depledge

    Kate (128) said:

    Furthermore, the original article published in the Lancet, attributing autism to vaccines, was retracted.

    Let’s not beat about the bush here. Wakefield was proven to have made up his “results”. He also had an undeclared interest (IIRC he co-founded a company that was making an alternative to MMR).

  159. Nigel Depledge

    Nurse Grace (140) said:

    I am an RN and I refuse to get the swine flu vaccine. There are many RNs offended that some hospitals – and some states, like NY – considering mandating we get these shots. As far as we are concerned, these vaccines are experimental,

    I have no idea where you get that from. It’s the same as every other flu vaccine that has been made in the last 30 years, apart from the epitopes against which it causes antibodies to be raised.

    and there is a long history of women and nurses being experimented on.

    Perhaps so, and such practices are no longer permitted. Unless you know of some recent cases that have gone unreported…?

    I remember what happened with the first Swine flu vaccines in 1976. No way will I get that one.

    Isn’t it fortunate for all of us, then, that the vaccine being prepared against pandemic H1N1 is different from that used in 76? There is no way anyone will get the 76 vaccine, because no-one is making it any more.

    You all are lay people

    Wrong. My PhD is in biochemistry and I have worked at the UK Medical Research Council’s Virology Unit. Currently I work in the biopharmaceuticals industry.

    You remind me of an interesting little comment that one of my pharmacology lecturers made: He used to give the same set of lectures to student nurses, medical students and biochemistry students. However, the level of detail had to be changed for the three different groups, because of the different backgrounds and levels of understanding. It was only the biochemistry students who recieved the full details. What this indicates to me is that it is unlikely that you have any deep understanding of the situation unless you have done some additional reading of your own since becoming qualified.

    and do not realize that we already have our titers of immunity to many diseases on file, we have received numerous routine vaccinations, &c, to prevent our catching and passing on infectious diseases to patients and coworkers. We are tested for HIV/AIDs regularly. We stand to catch diseases from YOU ALL, the public, not the other way around.

    Actually, it is both ways around.

    Many patients catch infections in hospitals from the staff, because the staff are exposed to so many diseases, and in many cases to several different strains of the same disease. If you wanted to devise an effective way of spreading a disease, you could find few better than unprotected hospital staff.

    I also believe there is bashing of nurses amongst feminists and those who read websites like Discovery – you know, we’re too damn dumb to get into medical school.

    I have known very few student nurses, so I cannot make a generalisation. However, I refer you to the comment I cited above, from one who taught them.

    Chill out. We put ourselves at risk every damn day we show up at work – exposure to infectious diseases, blood and body fluids, violence, demands, and injury from lifting and moving obese patients.

    And, as I understand it, most of these should be mitigated by your employer. One way in which they can do this is by providing free vaccinations.

    We bust our ass to keep you all alive. Then we get trashed by you when we don’t get the ice water fast enough.

    I’ve never had to stay in a hospital so I can’t comment, but it sounds like you’re exaggerating. Having said that, my limited experience of nursing staff is that you do a very hard job, and I respect that.

    By the way, RNs get disciplined all the time and we can lose our jobs for calling in sick. Yes, it is true.

    That’s true of many lines of work – you can be fired for having a poor attendance record.

    Having a good union helps, but not all RNs are unionized.

    And the same goes for other lines of work, too.

  160. Nigel Depledge

    Intrstd (153) said:

    Vaccines are NOT equal to “washing your hands”
    soap and water have existed for many years and to my knowledge has never harmed anyone the way vaccines have.

    You make two errors here.

    1) Ever heard of dermatitis?

    Frequent hand-washing can cause this. These days, most employers that require frequent hand-washing also provide some kind of cream to apply to prevent dermatitis and similar conditions.

    2) While there are cases where vaccines have caused harm, they are very very few when compared with the number of inoculations delivered. Getting vaccinated is safer than crossing the road.

  161. Nigel Depledge

    Kevin (154) said:

    The health care workers I know felt that this vaccine was rushed thru the system & not quite safe. Maybe they didn’t want THEIR health or lives put in jeopardy. This is AMERICA isn’t it ?

    It’s as safe as every other flu vaccine that has been produced using exactly the same process over the last 30 years or whatever.

    It is safer to have the vaccine than it is to risk getting pandemic H1N1 flu.

    BTW, this flu is pandemic – it’s not just America, it’s worldwide.

  162. Kill Bill

    This has gotten ridiculous.

    I am going to step away from all the talk of what is and should be necessary, health worker or not.

    Unless those workers agreed (i.e. written contract) prior to being hired that a condition of their contract was to take a vaccine, they are not obligated to take the vaccine.

    You, my friends, are missing the point. You are not living in a free-world democracy, it is nothing short of a communist state at this point.

    Yikes, and thank God I am not an American… apparently you have all lost sight of the American Dream.

  163. MA

    One of the antivax sites actually pushes using “religious exemption” in the public school setting, and says that it is the only reason a school would allow children not to be vaccinated. It said something along the lines of (without a hint of irony) “This is the only excuse that works. They will not listen to reason. The crazier you come across, the better.”

    So I think that the badly informed and scared may not actually be religious about it, but merely using it as “the only excuse that works.”

  164. Oscar Wildin

    Ah the old “safety trumps”. The people here should have been fired for noncompliance, but you were closer as to why with “no one should be exempted due to their beliefs” than “will always choose children’s safety over…”.

  165. Rob E.

    This article doesn’t even bring up good examples… Washing hands does NOT = Injecting your self with a virus.

  166. FatSean

    Sorry, your bronze age beliefs don’t trump science or your employer’s need to have a safe workplace for other workers and patients. Imagine if a flu out-break occured in that hospitol because cowardly narcissists didn’t want to vaccinate!

    Look, religion is a bunch of nonsense. These people think they will live on after their body dies in ‘heaven’! They can’t handle death so they make up a bunch of BS and beat others over the head with it. Don’t get me started on the narcissism that makes people invent stories that place themselves at the center of this enormous universe…

  167. Grossout Logicskills

    This article makes my skin crawl. The logic is horrible; honestly, handwashing = vaccinations? Discover, I thought you were better than this. This article is a piece of garabage. Vaccinations are a joke… but where is the debate on that?

    You can’t call it cowardly if they are standing up for what they believe in. Standing in line like a sheep getting injected like a pawn is cowardly.

  168. Kate

    @Rob E #169

    I guess you haven’t read up on the flu vaccine. You are not “injecting yourself with a virus” but rather with the specific components of the virus that the immune system recognizes. These components do not have the ability to comandeer cell machinery and replicate. The ONLY thing they do is activate the immune response.

    Flu vaccine != Flu

  169. @Grossout Logicskills

    Vaccinations are a joke… but where is the debate on that?

    You can’t call it cowardly if they are standing up for what they believe in. Standing in line like a sheep getting injected like a pawn is cowardly.

    How, exactly, are they a joke? Citations would be appreciated to back up whatever claims you might make. And please, be specific in your criticisms.

    How is getting vaccinated cowardly? Methinks you don’t actually know what “cowardly” means.

  170. Meh

    What’s sadder than the fact that someone had to be told to wash their hands is the fact that apparently their religion is against this simply sanitary practice. What sort of ridiculous religion worships the stinkpalm?

    As for this vaccination hullabaloo; if your religion means you are anti-science, you should not be working in a science related field. Next thing you know astrologers will demand to be working at NASA….

  171. FatSean

    They are cowards for believing in a god, actually. Man up, face your place in the universe and the inevitability of death, and get on with life.

  172. Jeff

    Not that closely related, but does anyone recall the rabbi who spread herpes to multiple babies by performing circumcisions through the traditional jewish ritual?

  173. TerriRN

    As a nurse that has refused seasonal influenza vaccination as well as the H1N1, rest assured people, the nurse caring for you at the bedside has just as much capability of “infecting” you with H1N1, seasonal influenza or whatever other flavor of the day illness they are carrying in their respiratory tracts.
    Vaccination does not necessarily mean immunity. At best, it could minimize symptoms of an illness, which could be even more dangerous to the vulnerable patients as healthcare workers show up for work with the sniffles or some sort of respiratory illness, do not mask and care for ill patients. OMG what if they had a very mild case of H1N1? That would mean that they would be spreading their “mild” case to vulnerable patients and BAM! A very ill patient with H1N1 right in the hospital…a nosocomial infection from a vaccinated employee!
    See how the vaccine DOESN”T work? So far, I have had 3 close friends that did take vaccination have serious side effects…one died, one got idiopathic thrombocytopenia, one Bell’s Palsy-by the way she is not able to work now at 2 of her 3 jobs since she is not able to close her left eye and it needs to be sewn shut…she is a school bus driver full-time (not anymore) part-time hospital shuttle bus driver (not anymore) and can only work at her evening part-time job as a taxi-dispatcher…not knowing how long the Palsy will last, if it goes away at all, she stands to lose everything and no one is liable for the damages!
    Don’t tell me these vaccinations are safe or that it is for “the good of all!”
    As for myself, I nourish my immune system with whole foods, proper rest and stay home when I am ill, which by the way, I haven’t been since my one and only seasonal influenza vaccination in 2003 which I reacted severely to, no knowing that there was formaldehyde in it of which I am allergic. No informed consent then and I found out only after researching it for the years after my reaction.
    LET’S BE REAL PEOPLE…THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN WASHING YOUR HANDS (NON-INVASIVE PROCEDURE) AND TAKING A MANDATORY VACCINATION (INVASIVE PROCEDURE). When you are being subjected to injection,you should have the right to self-determination, especially when the seasonal vaccinations are experimental, meaning that they don’t know if they will work from year to year…it is truly a crap shoot and they are truly shooting crap into your muscle!

  174. James B

    I see the same old arguments trotted out again and again, you need to read all the comments because what you have said has already been covered.

    Get vaccinated, or self-determine your way to unemployment benefits.

  175. Nigel Depledge

    Kill Bill (166) said:

    You, my friends, are missing the point. You are not living in a free-world democracy, it is nothing short of a communist state at this point.

    I think you have your terminology mixed up. A genuine pure democracy is simply unworkable. The USA is actually a republic.

    A genuine pure communist state would actually be just as representative as most modern republics. What I think you are suggesting is that they’re living in a dictatorship (whether it is nominally communist or otherwise is irrelevant).

    However, there is a broader point. At what point should personal freedoms be curtailed to prevent them from impacting negatively on the freedoms of others? Nowhere in the USA do people have the freedom to simply shoot people for no good reason. This has an obvious reason, but it is still a curtailment of personal freedom.

    In the UK, anyone arrested by the police (for whatever reason) does not have the right to refuse to provide a DNA sample. There are obvious reasons for this, but it is a curtailment of personal freedoms (and it is one that has a significant potential for abuse). Yet more people accept it than not.

  176. Nigel Depledge

    Jack Hagerty (100) said:

    For those of you reacting in shock over the hand washing rule, that was not int the article. It was (unless I misread it) a “Reductio ad absurdum” by Phil to show how ridiculous the refusal to be vaccinated. He clearly labeled it as such.

    Looks like some people did not read this part, or did not comprehend it.

    Yes, the authors of comments 169, 171 and 174, I’m lookin’ at you.

  177. Nigel Depledge

    Terri RN (178) said:

    Vaccination does not necessarily mean immunity.

    True.

    At best, it could minimize symptoms of an illness,

    Actually, this is the opposite of the truth.

    At best, vaccination confers complete immunity to the virus. In a proportion of cases, it confers a partial immunity which results in a milder case than would otherwise have occured and a pathogen with decreased virulence. In a very few cases, it makes no detectable difference.

    which could be even more dangerous to the vulnerable patients as healthcare workers show up for work with the sniffles or some sort of respiratory illness, do not mask and care for ill patients.

    This is possible, but I think you need to work out how likely it is before getting alarmed about it.

    OMG what if they had a very mild case of H1N1? That would mean that they would be spreading their “mild” case to vulnerable patients and BAM! A very ill patient with H1N1 right in the hospital…a nosocomial infection from a vaccinated employee!

    Whereas an unvaccinated employee could not possibly have a mild case of the same viral infection or be a symptomless carrier, right? Oh, wait. No, actually. Vaccination reduces the chance of getting infected in the first place. It also confers a likelihood that, if you are infected, the virus is less virulent.

    See how the vaccine DOESN”T work?

    You have not shown this. Your reasoning is fallacious.

    So far, I have had 3 close friends that did take vaccination have serious side effects…one died, one got idiopathic thrombocytopenia, one Bell’s Palsy-by the way she is not able to work now at 2 of her 3 jobs since she is not able to close her left eye and it needs to be sewn shut…she is a school bus driver full-time (not anymore) part-time hospital shuttle bus driver (not anymore) and can only work at her evening part-time job as a taxi-dispatcher…not knowing how long the Palsy will last, if it goes away at all, she stands to lose everything and no one is liable for the damages!

    So, while this is tragic, I feel compelled to ask if you have any evidence that the vaccination caused these problems, or if this is just a case of the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy?

    Don’t tell me these vaccinations are safe or that it is for “the good of all!”

    Well, (a) even if these unfortunate reactions were indeed caused by the vaccine, epidemiologically it is still safer to be vaccinated than not; and (b) yes, it is for the good of everyone.

    As for myself, I nourish my immune system with whole foods,

    And do you have any evidence that this actually works, or are you about to hit us with another logical fallacy?

    proper rest and stay home when I am ill,

    Which you should be doing even if you do get vaccinated.

    which by the way, I haven’t been since my one and only seasonal influenza vaccination in 2003 which I reacted severely to, no knowing that there was formaldehyde in it of which I am allergic.

    So, how can you tell you have not been a symptomless carrier of anything?

    No informed consent then and I found out only after researching it for the years after my reaction.

    Informed consent is required for experimental treatments, not for approved medications. However, if the vaccine contained formaldehyde, its label should have included a warning against giving it to nyone who has that allergy. Did you complain to the physician that administered it?

  178. Very simple:

    Your employer sets the conditions of your employment. If that includes vaccinations, then you get vaccinated. If you want the job, that is.

    Otherwise, take a walk.

    Good riddance, I say.

  179. RAD

    I’m familiar with the particulars of this case, but I suspect that the individuals involved are NOT Christian Scientists. While many Christian Scientists (along with many other people) make the choice not to have vaccinations, they are generally conscientious about obeying the law and with respecting the protocols in their places of work.

    As a Christian Scientist and a parent of two young children, I’d also like to respond to previous comments dealing with Christian Science and children’s health care.

    While Christian Scientists normally choose a path other than conventional medicine, this choice is not based on irrationality or blind faith. It instead reflects a systematic approach to prayer that has proven to be reliable and effective in the lives of those who practice it (in my own family’s case, for five generations). Most Christian Scientists would agree that when praying about a health issue (especially for a child) RESULTS MATTER and that in the absence of timely, tangible results a parent has an obligation to consider other means of treatment. In my own experience, this has not been necessary, but I’ll share a couple of examples where my wife and I consented to medical diagnosis consistent with what we felt were our obligations as parents.

    When our two children were born, we opted to have the births in a hospital and to have standard prenatal care during the pregnancies. In both instances, the doctors identified complications that were quickly healed through Christian Science and did not require medical treatment. During the first pregnancy, my wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. At the urging of the obstetrician, we scheduled an appointment with a specialist. In the meantime, we requested treatment from a Christian Science practitioner. By the time of the appointment with the specialist several days later, the symptoms of gestational diabetes were gone and never returned. When our second son was born, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. The pediatrician asked us to have it checked by a cardiologist. We again requested treatment from a Christian Science practitioner and again experienced a complete healing by time of the appointment with the specialist.

    I should emphasize that in relating these examples, it is not my intent to “sell” my religion or to “prove” the efficacy of Christian Science to those who may prefer other forms of health care. I’m just sharing some personal experiences that may help others to understand why my family and I feel confident in our health care choices.

    Christian Scientists don’t believe or teach that their religion somehow exempts them from the legal and moral obligations that every parent has to provide the best possible care for their children. Indeed, I believe that most feel a heightened sense of this responsibility and consistently practice their faith within that context.

    Thank your for your interesting blog and the opportunity to post this comment.

  180. James B

    I’m sorry, but classic alternative medicine (and religious) fallacy:

    Correlation does not equal causation. While in a hospital, receiving medical care, symptoms cleared up and you attribute that to your religion – in a completely complex system of care, and without any medical training, you pinpoint (without any evidence) the exact process by which symptoms were alleviated?

    I mean no harm by point this out, I would just like to show the difference between religious and non-religious thinking on the matter. And congratulations on your two healthy children :)

  181. Nigel Depledge

    To add to #185…

    Without an experimental control, absolutely no conclusions may be drawn about causation.

    This is, at heart, why anecdotal reports are not evidence.

    In every controlled test of intercessory prayer, the conclusion has been that prayer makes no difference.

  182. Nigel Depledge

    RAD (184) said:

    I should emphasize that in relating these examples, it is not my intent to “sell” my religion or to “prove” the efficacy of Christian Science to those who may prefer other forms of health care. I’m just sharing some personal experiences that may help others to understand why my family and I feel confident in our health care choices.

    And your confidence is founded on a logical flaw. There are many reasons why a person’s medical condition may improve without any intervention at all. You attribute the improvement to the actions of the CS “practitioner”, but the change could have been caused by any of half a dozen other things. The point is that, from the information you have, you can’t know what caused the improvement.

    So, the only way in which this anecdote provides any insight is to convince me that you are unfamiliar with critical thinking.

  183. Buzz Parsec

    Soap harmless, vaccines bad? Nonsense! Bob Clark has produced a video documentary proving beyond any doubt that soap (Lifebouy in particular) has caused at least one case of permanent blindness (Ralph Parker of Hammond, Indiana in 1940.) What more proof do you need? BTW, the documentary will be airing continuously on TNT in a couple of weeks.

  184. This is reported wrong. These employees was not fired for not washing hands. The hospital gave everyone the option to be exempt for medical and religious reasons. Several were exempt, but the problem came about when the hospital chose one religion as oppose to another. Opening itself up to be liable for religious discrimination. Many employees took the shot under duress. And their rights were violated along with those who didn’t take the shot. Due to the fact, that their religious exemption request was turned down as well. And the number of those employees may be over a thousand! And this is what is not being reported. It is also not reported that those who are exempted are not required to wear mask or any other precautions. Do that make any sense? Pennsylvania is a quaker state. The Quakers came here to escape persecution for practicing their religion. One of the first order of business was to make freedom of religion and speech top of their list. As in the 1st amendment.

  185. jf

    Geesh! Are you pro vaccine people also for forced sterilization of “undesirables’? Let people make up their own mind. I oppose gov’t decrees.

    Perhaps people are wary of vaccines for reasons such as the 1950s SV40 contamination of the polio vaccine. Please do some reading beyond wikipedia before you start yelling at cautious:

    http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/12-millions-of-americans-received-contaminated-polio-vaccine-between-1955-a/

  186. B.C.

    One thing to note with hospitals that require vaccinations for the safety of the patient – Hospitals only require the vaccines for the nurses and techs, not the doctors. Why are doctor’s immune to the policy? Is it about patient safety or not? If a hospital wants to require vaccines they should require them from all attending staff – not just the ones without the means to legally defend themselves.

  187. SockMonkey

    Obviously no one here has ever heard of the contents in a flu shot

    * egg proteins: including avian contaminant viruses
    * gelatin: can cause allergic reactions and anaphylaxis are usually associated with
    sensitivity to egg or gelatin
    * Polysorbate 80 (Tween80): can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.
    Also associated with infertility in female mice
    * Formaldehyde: a known carcinogen…this was removed from SHAMPOO, and NAIL
    POLISH, yet they want to inject it in your body?
    * Triton X100: a strong detergent
    * Sucrose: table sugar
    * Resin: known to cause allergic reactions
    * Gentamycin: an antibiotic
    * Thimerosal: mercury is still in multidose flu shot vials

    …and worst of all, apart from the contents of the regular flu shot there’s the increased risk of Guillian-Barre Syndrome

    In a review of 48 reports including more than 66,000 adults, “Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go to the hospital or take time off work.”
    REFERENCE: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. ” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1 (2006)

  188. Robert

    There is almost no studies of health care workers and whether influenza vaccine actually reduces absenteeism. We had a study in our heath care facility that was starting to show the opposite, that vaccinated healthcare workers called in sick MORE OFTEN than non-vaccinated workers. The study was such an embarrassment that it was killed and never mentioned again.

    Every single vaccination report begin that it is “generally accepted as true.” Notice that all the information is how to force people to be vaccinated, against their will to achieve numeric goals, instead of trying to convince them with statistics and the reason is that there are no statistics. They are blowing smoke out of their rears.

  189. Gwen S

    The “Church” in the past was the authority that controlled populations with fear of “fire and
    brimstone”…literally, the fear of going to hell when we die!
    Now Science has replaced the Church as the new authority, and as such, “Science” tries to
    convince us that we should trust them as we used to trust our churches, and that we should
    follow their every word as the new gospel. Fear of fire and brimstone is replaced by fear of
    being fired and living in the hell of illness and causing pandemics.
    And why should all hospital workers have to be vaccinated EXCEPT the doctors that work
    there?! Outrageous!

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