Originally published November 2 2008
Midwest Health Mecca Makes Flu Shots Mandatory for All Employees
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) BJC HealthCare, the shining beacon for traditional medical care throughout the Midwest, has made getting a flu shot mandatory for its 26,000 employees. That goes for all employees, even the ones who never come in contact with patients. If anyone refuses, it is going to be considered a breach of the fitness for duty requirement, meaning anyone who refuses to be vaccinated is subject to dismissal. Many employees are unhappy over this new edict.
Some employees who see the policy as a blatant violation of their privacy believe it should be at the discretion of the individual to decide what medications to take. Others think the way the policy was presented created an atmosphere of intimidation. When the policy was initially presented to employees it was made clear that without compliance, the employee could no longer work at BJC. Still others suspect that BJC is getting a kickback from the vaccine's manufacturer.
Employees receiving the flu vaccination are required to sign a waiver that totally absolves BJC of any liability if the employee is harmed by the vaccine. Yet it is the perception for potential harm that makes many of the workers wary of the shot in the first place. One 29 year veteran nurse knows that the flu shot is not without risks. She notes that in the 1970's, one person in 1000 was diagnosed with Gillian-Barre syndrome after receiving the swine flu vaccine.
There are exceptions to the policy. An employee can opt out if he has legitimate health or documented religious reasons. But employees who do not get a shot will be asked to wear a mask throughout the flu season.
Another employee who is exempt from the shot because of medical reasons worries about her co-workers and the community at large. She sees the BJC policy as a flagrant violation of personal rights and unconstitutional, and sees dire implications for the rest of society if BJC is allowed to overstep its bounds in this way. She finds it ludicrous to think that BJC's trampling of employee's personal rights will protect their patients, since they aren't planning to make visitors wear masks, and physicians with temporary privileges are not mandated to have the flu shot.
There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. It even states this in the vaccine package insert. However, there is a lot of evidence that the vaccines can be detrimental.
Some researchers are not comfortable with the safety data on the flu vaccine. Tom Jefferson, MD, coordinator of the Vaccines Field for the Cochrane Collaborative, an international group of researchers, reported in the British Medical Journal in 2007 that he had found only six limited studies on safety after reviewing 206 studies on the vaccine. He found this to be a surprisingly small number considering the widespread use of the vaccine and its mixed bag of ingredients.
Only small populations and short-term information are used to measure safety of flu vaccines. The reporting of adverse reactions is done for only 2 to 14 days after the vaccine is injected, and this reporting of reactions is voluntary.
The majority of the flu vaccine contains thimerosal, a preservative that is 49 percent mercury, a known neurotoxin and carcinogen that is believed to be instrumental in the onset of autism. Several states have prohibited the use of thimerosal in children's vaccines.
The flu vaccine is the result of the guestimates of vaccine researchers worldwide. Once a year they try to predict which flu viruses will be threatening for the following flu season. Their top three choices are made into a vaccine. Sometimes the vaccine is a winner and sometimes it's a loser. The difficulty comes from the fact that the virus mutates from year to year. The last complete loser was during the 2003-04 flu season.
In the 2005-06 season, the CDC said the vaccine was a good match with the virus, but a strain not included in the vaccine hospitalized 31 children in Houston. Two recent studies found that the shot may be less effective for people with weaker immune systems, so its effectiveness can depend on how well the body responds to the vaccine.
According to the CDC, 90 percent of flu related deaths occur in the population age 65 and older. Based on this information and the age distribution of the population, the chance of a flu-related death for people in that age group is about one in 1,000. This means the chances of not dying from flu for those 65 and older is about 999 out of 1,000. The chance of dying from flu is lower than the chance of dying from a fall or other accident.
For people younger than 65 and including children, the chance of death from flu is much smaller, about one in 100,000.
Steven Woloshin, Lisa M. Schwartz and H. Gilbert Welch, "A Shot of Fear", washingtonpost.com.
"Read This Before You Get A Flu Shot", Healthy Living.
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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