Accepting a mandatory flu vaccine has always bothered me. Personally, it frustrates me because of the many ethical and health-related questions. It’s interesting that nurses are actually pretty divided on this issue. A large and vocal majority
The flu is a terrible sickness to have. The risk of pandemic flu is a terrifying thought for most. If our global populations were to experience anything like the 1918 flu pandemic, it would certainly have drastic and deadly consequences.
For some people (elderly, small children, or immune compromised) just having an individual experience with the flu be deadly. Even now thousands die of the flu every year. Because of this, many healthcare facilities have to take the proactive approach of mandating employees to receive flu vaccines. After all, if you have received an immunization you’re less likely to get sick yourself, require time off, or spread the sickness to your already impaired patients.
But there are many that feel that forcing employees to receive vaccinations is a misuse of power. There are some that even feel that this is a misuse of authority and a violation of human rights. Consider that for some, a flu vaccine can be harmful, a mandatory flu vaccine doesn’t seem like something an employer should have the power to enforce, even in a right to work state.
Reasons Why Mandatory Flu Vaccines are Bad Policy
My friend Beth Boynton over at Confident Voices has outlined 6 reasons why she thinks mandating Flu Vaccinations is a BAD Policy for Patients and Nurses.
Here are a few of her examples:
2. Healthcare workers infected with HIV, Hepatitis, and possibly other contagious diseases, known and unknown are among us.
3. To allow nurses the right to refuse b/c of religious beliefs, but not personal and educated preference seems archaic to me and actually supports a hierarchical way of thinking rather than the kind of educated empowerment that healthcare professionals, consumers, and systems can all benefit from.
4. The policy does nothing to eliminate the spreading of the flu from visitors, (do we require all visitors to be vaccinated and if so, when as the vaccine won’t be effective for roughly 2 weeks)?
Is Herd Immunity Enough?
While I can personally see the value in the herd immunity that flu vaccinations can provide, I do get concerned by the false sense of security that they sometimes offer.
Many nurses and patients alike believe that if they receive a flu vaccine that they are completely protected from getting the flu. In reality that is not at all true. The flu vaccine is a best a “guess” at which strains of the flu might impact on a yearly basis. Being vaccinated does not protect you from other strains and it may lead some to take fewer precautions than they might otherwise.
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I am also personally concerned with how we are decreasing our bodies natural ability to fight infection. It seems we are more and more often using medicine to answer questions that mother nature can combat herself. Just like a martial artist who requires constant training and focus, the human body needs the opportunity to build up immunities natural and keep our natural defenses in tip-top shape.
The chances that we could be a victim of pandemic flu are continually on the rise. If forcing immunizations are what it takes to prevent a global catastrophe, then so be it. I just really hope that we don’t accidentally create Zombies in the process.
What are your thoughts? Does your employer require a mandatory flu vaccine? Do you think it’s more helpful or harmful to overall flu prevention?
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3 thoughts on “Should a Mandatory Flu Vaccine Acceptable Practice for Healthcare?”
Before working in healthcare I never got the flu vaccine nor have I ever had the flu. I totally agree with you on the whole not wanting to create zombies. I have recently finished nursing school and I am trying to land a job in geriatrics and I believe it is very important for me in particular to stay vaccinated due to the nature of patients I will have. I think that it would be better to only require healthcare workers to vaccinate if they work with geriatrics or peds.
I think this is a great idea. Peds and Geriactrics are the most likely to have the greatest complications.
I think I read that 20 children have already died this year from the flu.
My former employer only required people who were in direct patient contact to get the flu vaccines. My current requires all.
I get it, and I don’t mind to take it, but I don’t really like anyone forcing anything on me.
I first must say I do think that the decision to take a flu shot is a personal decision but when it comes to those who have opted to work in the healthcare profession, I also feel that a place of employment has the right to make decisions in regards to if an employee should or should not be allowed to work around others in the interest of the masses. Your friend mentioned HIV and Hepatitis that healthcare workers may be infected with an working…these particular viruses are transmitted in an entirely different way. You could not say that you think it would be OK for a worker with known tuberculosis to be allowed to work could you? No, getting a flu shot does not mean you are immune but there is some level of possible protection as well as for those that generally do get a shot even if they become sick the course is not as bad. I was at one time a person who did not want to get a flu shot and I found myself one year hospitalized for seven days, violently ill behind that decision. Unfortunately, for some people they will only do what is the better option when they are put in a position they are required to do so…for example the wearing of seatbelts…some argue that they feel the government doesn’t have the right to mandate if they wear them or not…even when time has proven that to do so saves lives. I honestly believe that flu immunization does overall save lives…but again it is a personal decision but when you work in a field that has that requirement the choice is simple…either get the shot or be without the job.