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Ah, no. (My answer to mandatory influenza vaccination)

[To whom it may concern,]
 
I have no idea how [company] got involved with what I put or not put into my body, in this case the influenza vaccine.
 
Since [company] is so concerned allow me to share. Only I have a say as to what I put or not put in my body. I have not had an influenza vaccine in over 20yrs, since leaving the service in 1995. In 30+yrs of working, since age 14, I have missed but one (1) day of work but never have I missed a day of work due to illness. That is not to say I have not been ill or injured in those 30+ years, especially since I work in the emergency department where the risk to the unknown is overwhelming.
 
I hope [hospital] is not hiding behind patients over scientific evidence for their idiot-ology [sic] (what I have coined as “great ideas from stupid people”). As any healthcare worker having to take the influenza vaccine to protect patients is absurd. Especially patients in the emergency department as those patients are at greatest risk from contracting influenza or a number of other illnesses while in the waiting room versus from any time spent with healthcare workers.
 
My intent is to neither be dramatic or a conspiracy theorist but the evidence is overwhelming, to include that from the CDC (TABLE #1 & 2 [Published 2010]), that the influenza vaccine has not moved the needle, no pun intended, in preventing influenza and much less deaths caused by influenza related illnesses.
 
If anything the influenza vaccine gives a false sense of security which could explain the increased number of cases and deaths associated with influenza in the last decade (above mentioned TABLE #1 & 2 YEARS 2003-06), a period during which more people than ever before have been given the influenza vaccine, yet the numbers have not changed. Not to mention the fear mongering that has created the lucrative market for antiviral meds, i.e. Tamiflu. Yet, neither, the vaccine or antivirals, have shown any efficacy in the reduction of influenza cases or deaths for that matter in the past decade.
 
If the intent of mandatory vaccinations is to diminish sick days two points:
1.    Work missed is irrelevant to seasonal influenza—I lack citing those facts, however, the anecdotal experiences of the three years I been working at [hospital] and employees calling off work are all too common. Not to mention the number of employees I have seen in the emergency department after mentioned employees became ill or injured at work—most too ill/injured they are excused from work. That phenomenon specific to [hospital] as I have never seen such epidemiology anywhere else I have worked.
2.    Above mentioned, I have missed but a single shift in 30+ years and it was not because of illness/injury. Again, as mentioned above as well, that is not to say I have not been ill/injured in 30+ years.
 
Again, my intent is not to be dramatic, but next employers will want to tell its employees they can not eat Twinkies, smoke, consume alcohol, or even drive a vehicle, as those, and many other daily activities/behaviors, cause greater consequences to our nation's population, to include financial burden and loss of work/productivity, than influenza does.
 
In healthcare, we disassemble renowned research before accepting it into our practice as best practices. Yet, despite the extensive research against the influenza vaccine and its antiviral treatments the same song and dance about influenza emerges every year, year after year. And despite all the evidence, year after year, the same fear mongering and threats are held over our jobs, submit to the influenza vaccine, wear a mask, or joblessness. As in practice, I say to myself, do not make decisions based on hype or emotion over scientific evidence.
 
As for hiding behind patients (what administrators call “looking out for the patient’s best interest”), are employers declining employment to healthcare workers infected with HIV or Hepatitis too? Because if using the same idiot-logical [sic] than those healthcare workers are a risk to patients too, regardless what season it is.
 
That said I decline the influenza vaccine. Ironically, [hospital]'s policy “may” permit religious and/or medical exceptions. However, it appears [hospital] did not accept my adult and educated decision to reject the influenza vaccine as I purposely noted on the [hospital] form I was asked to complete and submit to the organization. A form which permits hiding behind religion or medical excuses that might be accepted. I cannot make this stuff up.
 
However, if needed, although I DO NOT see why, there is sufficient medico-legal evidence that supports declining the influenza vaccine as well.
 
If the above mentioned is not sufficient, as my education and experience are not enough for an employer although it is the same education and experience trusted to give healthcare to others, the following dissertation is more of the same with specific medico-legal evidence, which highlights that the efficacy of the influenza vaccination is grossly exaggerated:
 
(1)The British Medical Journal has questioned the validity of studies claiming efficacy and stated that “evidence from systemic reviews shows that inactivated vaccines have little or no effect on the effects measured.” [BMJ 2006;333].

(2)Another three journals have proven influenza vaccinations have not changed the amount of doctor visits or hospitalizations in children. [Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Oct, 162(10):943-51; Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008:2; Arch Dis Child. 2004 Aug;89(8):734-5].

(3)Another two journals show that vaccinations have not impacted the mortality rate of the elderly population. [Lancet Infect Dis. 2007 Oct, 7(10):658-66; Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008 Sep 1, 178(5):527-33; Epub 2008 Jun 12].
 
The above populations, children and elderly, being at risk populations. I am neither, if the intent is to protect the employee. But, if the intent is to protect patients the evidence does not support those claims either.
 
(4)There is a lack of supporting evidence to show that vaccinating healthcare workers prevents influenza transmission. [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Feb 17;(2):CD005187].

(5)Again, all these vaccinations are doing is providing a false sense of security and therefore putting healthcare workers and patients at risk. But there is even a greater risk for those who receive the vaccination. The CDC lists the following as being found in the influenza vaccination: Neomycin, Polymyxin B, formaldehyde or formalin,  thimerosal, embryonated chicken eggs, egg albumin, gelatin, Gentamycin, Polyoxyethylene 9-10 Nonyl Phenol (Triton N-101, Octoxynol 9), chick kidney cells and Taurodeoxychoalate. Many of these are known carcinogens and detergents that have unknown effects on the human body.

(6)Some of the potential side effects from the vaccination include anaphylaxis, allergic asthma, redness and discomfort at the injection site, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, vasculitis, body aches, paresthesia, neuopathy, seizure, facial palsy, facial paresis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, cough, chills, fever, encephalitis and meningitis. [Package inserts for FluMist and Fluarix, although not sure which products are currently available I am sure the side effects are similar not to mention the other evidence is vast].

(7)Thimerosal, a preservative common used in vaccines, has been shown to potentially increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, brain damage and nervous system injury. Package inserts also state that the vaccination/mist “has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential or its potential to impair fertility.” This clearly states then that very little is known about the long-term health effects of receiving this vaccination. There is also no guarantee of protection from influenza or potential temporary or permanent injury or even death. [Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry. 2009, 91(4):735-49;Cell Biol Toxicol. 2010 Apr, 26(2):143-52; Epub 2009 Apr 9. Again, unknown if used in current products but the other evidence is vast.]
 
While I support [hospital]'s “interest” with regard to the safety of healthcare workers (despite healthcare workers are at greater risk from healthcare directed violence than any other threat—a fact healthcare rather not address) and patients (despite 40,000+ patients die per year from medical errors—another story healthcare rather not address) I cannot support the use of mandatory vaccinations to achieve their misleading goals, which ever those are. Furthermore, due to the lack of evidence supporting the influenza vaccine is effective one must extrapolate that until such supportive evidence is obtained the administration of the influenza vaccine, mandatory or volunteer, is an experiment. Again, not conspiring but simply pointing out that in healthcare we are to reject treatments and procedures that lack supportive evidence.
 
(8)Because of the latter, that the influenza vaccine is an experiment in populations NOT at risk, like myself, than the mandatory administration of a mandatory vaccine is in direct violation of the Nuremberg Code which states in article 1 that consent should be voluntary and allow for “free power of choice without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion.” Article 6 states, “the degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment [additionally the influenza vaccine being an experiment of which, every year, at best, it is a guest (despite it being, for comic relief, what I call SWAG—a scientific wild ass guess) as to what influenza strain may appear any season].” And article 9, “During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.”
 
As a healthcare worker I address similar controversies with patients, as every treatment and procedure has risks. However, for patients those risks are weighed against their benefits and patients are counseled of such in order to permit them participation in their care. Yet, when patient decline any treatment or procedure we allow them to do so as long as they are competent and appropriate enough to make such decision. The reason, we cannot force anything on to patients, which I share with them and add, “If you change your mind come back.” Yet, healthcare workers are not permitted such ethical options and instead must take one of two, submit to the vaccine or loose their job, as healthcare workers who decline the influenza vaccine are terminated every influenza season.
 
A decision administrators see as defiant rather the healthcare worker’s choice unlike that of patients making the same choice to decline. Administrators than retaliating by firing the healthcare worker(s) which, if the intent is to protect patients, leaves patients vulnerable—as studies have shown, over and over, that decreased staff leads to deplorable circumstances and catastrophic outcomes for patients to include but not limited to increasing medical errors, increasing wait times, increasing treatment delays and increasing nursing workloads. All for what, because administrators dismissed choice as insubordination? Not to mention the domino effect on the remaining staff who now must cover extra shifts leaving them exhausted, stressed, their immune systems suppressed, another illness (not influenza, of course, as they submitted to vaccination), so they call in sick, another staff has to pull extra shifts—an endless spiral out of control. Again, why? Because the administrator with the great idea, that “everyone MUST be vaccinated or else”, is perturbed that a healthcare worker would make an individual choice for themselves over that of the organization.
 
Health and healthcare is of great importance to me and something I do not take lightly and why I will NOT waiver ownership to others as to what I put or not put in my body.
 
Everyone I have ever worked with will tell you I am a quiet professional, I show up to work on time, do the job I am hired to do, and I go home. I DO NOT go to work to look at the pictures of kids, participate in potlucks, or hope to get on anyone’s xmas list, I am there to perform the tasks I was hired to do and get paid for. Despite that disinterest in others colleagues and peers, everywhere I have worked, regard my work record as an asset to any organization and with an unmatchable work ethic, an integrity without compromise, a reliability that can be counted on, and a loyalty that is absolute. That said, my desire is to continue to do the work I do at [hospital] of providing excellent patient care. However, I WILL NOT submit to the insistence of a mandatory vaccine that I do not want or need.
 
As for wearing a mask, that is nothing more than healthcare’s junior-high mindset of shaming healthcare workers into submission and just one of many shaming schemes healthcare administrators suspend over our jobs for a number of reasons, not just influenza vaccination. Not to mention, there is NO scientific evidence that wearing a mask prevents influenza or any other respiratory illnesses either, but another topic.
 
After 10+ years in the U.S. Army, I have yet to meet ANY civilian manager capable of such effect of shaming me, despite it is healthcare's primary idiot-ology [sic] to getting healthcare workers to submit to the whim of administrators and many have lower themselves to. I know that sounds terrible and even a miserable work environment, however, not a day goes by that I have thought of doing anything else as my desire is to help others and I DO NOT get caught up in the drama that is healthcare’s submissive, altruistic and accommodating culture and its lack of leadership. That said, I could wear a mask as needed.
 
Again, pardon the bloviating and boredom of healthcare’s junior-high minutia. If anything, from our nation’s general election, 8 Nov 2016, I hope managers have learned that those who do the work are fed up with their elitism, their disinterest towards those doing the work, and their never ending condescending response, “Because that is how we have always done it”. Feel free to share with whoever at [hospital] decided [company] needed to get involve. However, ask whoever at [hospital] to refrain from replying as I am not interested in their comments—I will wear the mask of shame, just like those excused because of medical or religion reasons, which ever those reasons might be and the pathetic path of least resistance.

Sincerely,

The Knitted Brow

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