mask or flu shot?

  1. 1 Hi all,
    New York State recently passed a law requiring all healthcare personnel to get the flu shot or wear a mask. I know this has been going on for a while in other states. I'd like to hear from any nurses or students who have previously opted to wear the mask instead of getting the shot - how was your experience? how did your patients react? did it impact your ability to do your job in any way? was the mask bearable?

    thank you
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  3. Visit  lilangel6828 profile page

    About lilangel6828

    From 'New York, NY'; Joined Mar '12; Posts: 9; Likes: 12.

    23 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  wooh profile page
    1
    I've done it the last three years. Apparently there's finally an egg-free vaccine, so I guess I'll be the guinea pig for that this year. But the mask isn't that bad. Especially if half your patients are on droplet precautions anyway. My patients have only asked about it a couple times, and when I told them why, they didn't care or even thought it was ridiculous.
    lilangel6828 likes this.
  5. Visit  brandy1017 profile page
    4
    I'd gladly choose the mask, but many of the hospitals in the area and across the country are not giving workers an option. Instead mandation is the name of the game. I don't believe in flu shots. We all know they are not very effective, and it is a guessing game. Everyone pushing the shot wants to downplay the risks and pretend they don't exist and lie about how safe it is. Sure its safe until you're the one with guillian barre! They claim the risk is 1 in 100,000, well I guess we'll find out as there are millions of nurses alone, plus all the other health care workers across the country. Also I wonder if there are other side effects unknown such as increase in autoimmune diseases like MS? If I understand right the new egg free vaccines are made via insects, sounds creepy if you ask me!

    Truth be told a mask would do more to prevent us from becoming infected by all the patients we treat vs them us. I bet a mask would be more effective than a shot, of course it doesn't benefit big pharma! I would choose a mask anyday. Just think you wouldn't even have to fake a smile!
    Last edit by brandy1017 on Sep 12, '13
  6. Visit  wooh profile page
    1
    Actually, I believe the egg free are made from a line of cells that came from a cocker spaniel.
    imintrouble likes this.
  7. Visit  MelodyNelson profile page
    2
    Mask, most definately! The flu shot is not worth the risk.
    lilangel6828 and icecreamcake like this.
  8. Visit  NurseDirtyBird profile page
    9
    Quote from brandy1017
    I'd gladly choose the mask, but many of the hospitals in the area and across the country are not giving workers an option. Instead mandation is the name of the game. I don't believe in flu shots. We all know they are not very effective, and it is a guessing game. Everyone pushing the shot wants to downplay the risks and pretend they don't exist and lie about how safe it is. Sure its safe until you're the one with guillian barre! They claim the risk is 1 in 100,000, well I guess we'll find out as there are millions of nurses alone, plus all the other health care workers across the country. Also I wonder if there are other side effects unknown such as increase in autoimmune diseases like MS? If I understand right the new egg free vaccines are made via insects, sounds creepy if you ask me!

    Truth be told a mask would do more to prevent us from becoming infected by all the patients we treat vs them us. I bet a mask would be more effective than a shot, of course it doesn't benefit big pharma! I would choose a mask anyday. Just think you wouldn't even have to fake a smile!
    Your odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 84. Stop driving. Pharmaceutical companies actually lose money on flu vaccinations, as they have to be retooled and remanufactured every year, and are kind of required to overestimate their demand. Also, did you know the red dye in your lipstick and food is made from bugs? Enjoy!

    OP: If you don't want to get the flu shot, don't. If you do, great. I have found wearing a mask makes me uncomfortable all day, but has made my patients feel more comfortable knowing they have less chance of catching germs from me. I got my flu shot late last year, so had to wear a mask for a while until I got around to it.
    Last edit by NurseDirtyBird on Sep 13, '13
  9. Visit  JDZ344 profile page
    1
    If I had to chose, I would chose the injection.
    Last edit by JDZ344 on May 14, '14
    prnqday likes this.
  10. Visit  vera4130 profile page
    8
    I don't think we'll get a choice to opt for mask this year. I don't care how safe it is or how "effective," I resent being forced to get it. I've never had the flu, and I didn't get vaccines for it until last year. Something about eating well and taking care of yourself does a lot for your immune system. Hand hygiene gets a lot of credit too!
    brandy1017, geoffreyg, icecreamcake, and 5 others like this.
  11. Visit  wheeliesurfer profile page
    0
    2012 was a bad year for me health wise (I spent basically the whole of 2012 in the hospital myself for a setback related to my spinal cord injury and right before I was going to be DC'd to home in May of 2012 a spinal headache that I had had previously reared its ugly head and the neurosurgeons suspected it was a chronic CSF leak from one of my spine surgeries for severe scoliosis. Not being able to locate it on radiographs my local NSG couldn't treat the CSF leak b/c he didn't know where to look for it and didn't want to do a multi level lami, so I stayed in LTAC for a few months until I was able to get to a CSF leak specialist at a tertiary care/teaching hospital in the big city near me in So. Cal). Anyways, after I finally got my CSF leak repaired I was transferred to a rehab hospital that deals with a LOT of spinal cord injury patients like myself. I noticed that nearly everyone had a green sticker on their name tag and inquired why (I test positive for MRSA colonization of the nares, so I am always on iso precautions to begin with) and found out that the sticker (green that year) means they had their flu shot that is "required" by admin. If you don't get the flu shot you must wear a mask when in direct contact with patients. There were a few nurses or therapists who chose not to vaccinate and wore the mask instead, and they didn't mind the mask. I think it just became second nature to them after a couple weeks.
    I myself get the flu shot every year anyways b/c of my history of asthma and reduced lung capacity from scoliosis, and also b/c I have a genetic connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (type 3 - hypermobility). I have never gotten sick from the flu shot (thankfully), but I have also never gotten the flu and I rarely get colds (I usually get full blown pneumonia before I show signs of a "cold").
    I personally think that hospitals should make the flu shot optional, even if the state "requires" the shot for HCP's. I believe that not everyone should be forced into the shot just because it is easier for the hospital (or whatever!) and that the mask is a more than viable alternative for those who choose for religious, health or other reasons not to be vaccinated on a yearly basis.
  12. Visit  whealer profile page
    0
    I just got a call in from our office about someone who had to get the vaccine over wearing a mask. Personally, flu shots never made a difference. I got sick when I wasn't taking care of my body. Once I went gluten free (I'm a Celiac), exercised, and ate healthier foods and was took preventative measures when I started to feel sick, then the awful colds, flus, and sore throats pretty much went away. I got a flu shot last year so I couldn't say for sure if that actually made a difference.
  13. Visit  chuckster profile page
    4
    Quote from MelodyNelson
    Mask, most definately! The flu shot is not worth the risk.
    The mask offers a slight degree of protection only to your patients. The flu shot offers protection to both you and your patients, admittedly at a slight risk to you. The fact is however that your risk of an extreme adverse reaction (mortality) from contracting the flu is far greater than the risk associated with immunization:
    For deaths with underlying pneumonia and influenza causes during 1976--2007 in the United States, the models estimated an annual overall average of 6,309 (range: 961 in 1986--87 to 14,715 in 2003--04) influenza-associated deaths (Table 1). For these underlying causes, the average annual rate of influenza-associated death was 2.4 deaths per 100,000 (range: 0.4--5.1).

    Among persons aged <19 years, an estimated annual average of 97 (range: 41 in 1981--82 to 234 in 1977--78) influenza-associated deaths with underlying pneumonia and influenza causes occurred (Table 1). The average annual rate of influenza-associated deaths for this age group was 0.1 deaths per 100,000 persons (range: 0.1--0.3). Among adults aged 19--64 years, an estimated annual average of 666 (range: 173 in 1981--82 to 1,459 in 2004--05) influenza-associated deaths with underlying pneumonia and influenza causes occurred. The average annual rate of influenza-associated deaths for this age group was 0.4 deaths per 100,000 persons (range: 0.1--0.8). Among adults aged ≥65 years, an estimated annual average of 5,546 (range: 673 in 1978--79 to 13,245 in 2003--04) influenza-associated deaths with underlying pneumonia and influenza causes occurred. The average annual rate of influenza-associated deaths for this age group was 17.0 deaths per 100,000 (range: 2.4--36.7). Deaths among persons aged ≥65 years accounted for 87.9% of the overall estimated average annual influenza-associated deaths with underlying pneumonia and influenza causes.
    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Protection (2008), Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, "Estimates of Deaths Associated with Seasonal Influenza --- United States, 1976--2007." Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5933a1.htm
    Laidback Al, ShantheRN, hiddencatRN, and 1 other like this.
  14. Visit  imintrouble profile page
    1
    First flu shot last year when it became a condition of my employment.
    I didn't even consider the mask.
    I've never missed a day because of flu. I rarely get sick. I have excellent health. I saw no reason to mess around with the above track record, but my employer didn't agree.

    What made me more than a little mad, was that those who chose the mask, simply didn't comply with the rules. They wore them when they thought they could be "caught" by management. They stopped wearing them well before the mandated date. Nobody monitored that group for compliance.
    hecallsmeDuchess likes this.
  15. Visit  nursej22 profile page
    0
    I've been getting flu shots for years, and have only seen 1 co-worker have an adverse reaction--an inflammation in her shoulder that resulted in surgery. I have however seen a staff nurse die from the flu and she was a healthy 20 something.
    We had so many patients with flu last year and they suffered miserably with dyspnea, coughing and pain.
    There are a few staff members who wear masks and no thinks that much about it.
    I hate masks in general just because they make my glasses steam up.


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