Nurse: 'I was fired for refusing flu shot' - page 13

by DesertRN2 62,899 Views | 266 Comments

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    This thread inspired my idea for my final writing assignment for the Online RN to BSN program from which I lack 2 weeks finishing!!! It is an ethical decision making paper and I am writing on whether or not it is ethical or even legal to force nurses to take a flu shot. IN my opinion, it is not. I have done research and here is what I have learned.
    The last swine flu outbreak before the 2009 fiasco, occurred in 1976 when Geral Ford was President. A soldier from Fort Dix died with Swine Flu. We can't really say he died from Swine Flu, but when this man died he also had swine flu. So the Ford Administration decides to embark on a mass immunization campaign to "protect" the American people against a Swine Flu pandemic. The World Health Organization was unaware of the campaign and when the WHO got wind of things, they were shocked as the advisement did not come from them. As a matter of fact the WHO had never issued any pandemic warnings. The USA proceeded with the immunization campaign and 500 people ended up dying from Guillain Barre syndrome before anyone realized the connection between G-B and flu vaccines. After the hoorah died down, a pandemic never "panned" out. In fact, there weren't enough cases of swine flu to even be counted as an epidemic. Also, I learned from reading the American Nurse Association position papers that the ANA is NOT in favor of mandating any kind of vaccination program for nurses. It's against our rights of self detemination and autonomy. Furthermore, I personally know several people-not just nurses-who have never taken a flu shot in their lifetime and have never caught the flu. Some people just don't get the flu for whatever reasons. Why would you inject something foreign in someone's body for no reason other than politics and payroll? Doctors can refuse to get the shot, however they are stilled allowed to make rounds in the hospital. That alone violates a nurse's right to fair and just treatment. Even the CDC state on their website that handwashing and covering your cough is effective in preventing the spread of influenza.
    Beneficence-firing your seasoned and experienced nurses for refusing to take any medication does no good whatsoever to the field of nursing. High school graduates looking on can opt for other careers where they do not have subject themselves to such controlling behavior by an employer.
    Maleficence-forcing a nurse to take a medication that could potentially have harmful side effects violates their right to be free from maleficence. I personally know of one nursing student and two nurse who contracted G-B from a flu shot. The nursing student ended up on a ventilator. All three continue to suffer from severe fatigue syndrome and will never be able to work in nursing again. A cafeteria worker at a school where I conducted a flu shot clinic, suffered ototoxicity after getting a flu shot. She is permanently hard of hearnig in her right ear since taking the vaccine. Her physician's theory is that she developed a hypersensitivity reaction to the thimerosol in the vaccine. And I witnessed a high school prinicpal go in to anaphylactic shock after receiving her annual flu vaccine. This woman had flu shots for years without a reaction, but that day, her body declared the components a foreign invader and she had an allergic reaction. So this principal will never be able to take a flu shot again.

    I think a nurse's decision to accept or decline a flu shot is not different than our right to accept or decline the Hepatitis B series. If we can decline that and still work, then the flu vaccine is no different.

    Also I read about two well controlled lab studies- one on doctor's stethoscopes and the other on nurses' lab jackets-both were contaminated with MRSA, streptococcus, and Serratia marcescens by the end of a shift.

    Infection control goes back to old fashioned hand washing. Florence Nightingale believed that cleaning and scrubbing were the keys to better outcomes during the Crimean War, and so did Clara Barton.
    brandy1017 and Smartone86 like this.
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    Yeah but if you ever have a reactive TB test, you don't ever have to submit to being stuck again. It's a matter of answering a questionnaire regarding unexplained weight loss (which I wish I would develop everytime I get on the scales at the doctor's office), cough with bloody sputum, and night sweats( which I have had for two years now since being menopausal) If we allow our employers to force us to comply with a flu vaccine campaign that isn't 100% foolproof in effectiveness or safety, what's next? Can they force us 50+ something menopausal nurses in to HRT to stop us from being ****** with our patients and co-workers? Or what about this, perhaps as a condition of employment, they force child bearing age nurses in to taking some from of birth control so they don't miss any work having to go to prenatal appointments, missing work because of morning sickness or taking whatever amount of time off from work they need to recuperate from pushing a baby out of their bodies. I think the whole issue back in 2009 of firing those nurses was not about protecting the public, but rather politics and payroll. With the nursing shortage the way it is now, a hospital is creating medical suicide by firing a qualified and experienced nurse over something like this. If hurts the reputation of the hospital.
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    A flu vaccine isn't 100% effective in anyone. Some people get a flu shot and still get the flu. Likewise, some people never get a flu shot and they never get the flu. It's an individual immune response, just as taking the flu shot or declining the flu shot is an individual matter.
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    While some conditions of employment are lawful, others are not. For example, it is not lawful to make a sexual relationship, or a sexual assault, a condition of employment. It is logical, that if it is an assault, to force or coerce someone to be subjected to a procedure, then it should be illegal to force someone to do that same thing, as a condition of employment. Being an employer, does not make someone a lawmaker. It is a physical assault to force someone to be subjected to physical treatments, such as an injection, against their will - even if by coerced concent. It should logically, be a physical assault, to coerce someone to receive an injection as a condition of employment. There are risks, associated with some vaccines. The risks can be higher if you have an egg allergy. There have been quality issues in vaccines. Some people, just don't like being lab rats. ...on my part, I get vaccinated. However, I support the right of others to chose, and I do not support the unlawful right of employers to coercive physical measures as conditions of employment.
    brandy1017 likes this.
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    I hope you are not direct care nurses. Sure, if you are a QA nurse etc., you are not going to be a vector to compromised patients. But a recent study found that only 29% of healthcare staff with symptomatic influenza took time off from work. The 71% who came to work were exposing their patients to an illness that could be deadly when added to their already compromised health. The National Quality Forum has listed flu immunization of healthcare workers as 1 of 30 safe practices that should be used universally to reduce the risk of harm to patients. I am so disappointed that healthcare workers would argue against such a proven public health intervention as a flu shot. There are much bigger issues in healthcare to reserve our energies for.
    notpuurfctbtgdenghns and heron like this.
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    Amen sister. I too get the vaccine, but the thought is always lurking in the back of mind, "OK is this the year that I develop anaphylaxis and my throat closes up and the LPN or RN working the flu clinic panics and can't break open that vial of epi? (I actually saw this happen at a flu clinic. The nurse I was working with just froze and sat there staring wide eyed at the vial of epi while I had the client by the belt loops trying to prevent him from falling in the floor. Finally a paramedic that was in WalMart intervened and grabbed the epi ampule from her, drew it up and passed it to me to give.) My employer doesn't mandate it. They could care less since they aren't the ones paying for it. I am, with your permission, citing some of your intuitive comments in my paper in support of a nurses right to choose. I'm only using your screen ID not your real name, as well as another nurse on the forum from MI. I like your thought that an employer is not a law maker. Also in states that are unionized, an employer cannot use due force or do anything that goes against the union rules for their nurses. NC where I live is not unionized. NC is an at will employment state and on every application there is the statement that "either party can terminate the working relationship without cause." So basically anything goes here in NC. I believe the Washington Nurses Association took one of the hospitals to court and won. NY Supreme Court put a freeze on mandating nurses to take the flu vaccine. WV is still up for grabs, but the other two cases have set a judicial precedent that nurses can uses as a legal course of action if this ever happens again. In the meantime, wash your hands, take care of your own health in the way you believe to be right for your body.
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    So just to be clear....I am for immunizations. I am not for employers bullying people into getting immunized. If someone is having difficulty coming up with a convincing argument - just because they are bigger, and maybe smarter or better informed, they still don't have the right to physically make (or coerce) people to bend to their demands. A major tenent in healthcare, is the ability to communicate and educate. If healthcare employers can't convince their employees that getting immunized is a good idea...what does that say about their ability to educate and convince the public? Only, when healthcare employers abandon the idea of bullying employees into submission, will they be able to come up with a more viable educational message on immunizations.

    I am also an advocate of reasonable amounts of sick time. If people are coming to work sick, then make looking at labor agreements is the issue. I doubt people really want to go to work when they are sick. So, why are they? The unreasonable concept that no one can have time to be sick, is harmful. I suspect, that a major contribution to Over-The-Counter pharmaceutical abuses, and antibiotic abuses, is a desparate push to meet the unrealistic desire to comply with the demand of a work force that never calls in sick.

    I, for one, have had an employer call me in hospital. Despite being told I was not coherent enough to talk, and that the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me (I was convinced spider bite with shock). She demanded to know what was wrong with me, and when I would be back at work. I could have had some nasty new virus. She didn't care. She just wanted to meet her production.

    During the last swine flu outbreak, a different employer called me again, when I was knocked out of coherency and fevril at 104 F. She called me and demanded to know when I would be back to work - in a long-term care & skilled nursing facility. She was nurse, she didn't care about my symtoms, or if I had anything to relieve my fever or needed a ride to a doctor. I mean, that's would do for an employee or co-worker, ask if they needed anything. I didn't get the feeling she cared about the patients...

    I suspect that much, but not all, of the "proof" against immunizations is faulty. It is healthy, for a healthcare worker, to say, "Show me the evidence. Show me the proof." It is up to employers to come up with civil, & convincing arguments, and to demonstrate leadership skills when convincing people to comply. I have to say, having someone who has demonstrated care for your welfare tell you to get immunized, and having someone who has demonstrated they decidedly do not have concern for your welfare tell you to get immunized.... OK, they are the same message, ...but not likely to be received the same.

    So if healthcare employers force workers to get immunized, what is the plan for the general public? Military vehicles rounding up the non-immunized in every neighborhood? That healthcare workers are rufussing immunizations is actually a solid opportunity for healthcare industries to study ways to be more successful in educating the general public. An added bonus of letting people stay home sick once in while, is that maybe they will have time to do better research on the topic, and convince themselves to get immunized. I would love to see all healthcare workers, for whom it is medically indicated, immunized.
    Last edit by PDXPonySN913 on Jul 22, '11
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    Same thing goes with back injuries. When I pulled a muscle in my lower back lifting a patient without adequate help (as usual), my employer made the comment, "I figured you would pull something like this." I asked the DON what she meant by her comment, "Do you mean you figured I would use one of my sick days that I was supposedly promised when I was hired, since I filled out the incident report last night and told you my back was hurting after transferring that patient?"

    Flu shots are not 100% effective, neither are they 100% safe for 100% of the people 100% of the time. These nurses that are putting blind faith in to their employers, the CDC and the FDA need to look at some of the research and history that I just got through studying in order to write my ethics paper. Is anyone aware of all the vaccine recalls that take place every year the new flu vaccine is released. I work flu clinics for a living and have been doing so for the past 8 years. There is no telling how many people we vaccinate with problematic vaccine before we even get news of a recall and our vaccine is pulled. Now that should give everyone pause to reflect. I personally know a nursing student and two nurses who developed Guillain Barre syndrome after receiving a flu shot. All three will never be able to work as nurses again due to the residual effects of GB syndrome and all three will emphatically tell people to question what is going in to your body just so an employer doesn't have to pay for sick leave or the cost of an agency nurse. I also know of an elementary school cafeteria worker who lost her hearing after receiving a flu shot that I gave her. her doctor thinks she had a hypersensitivity reaction to the thimerosol. And ALL brands of flu vaccine carry a pregnancy warning, including Fluvirin and Fluzone which is supposed to be safe for use during pregnancy, or so we were told.. But if you read the package inserts that come in the boxes of vaccine, the warning is in black and white. How many people have read the entire package insert before taking a flu shot? Very few people do. Even the CDC states that a flu vaccine is one of three ways to prevent the spread of flu. The other ways are hand washing, covering your cough, keeping your hands away from your nose and eyes, and staying home if you are sick. The third way is to take anti-viral drugs if you are exposed which prevents viral shedding. I for one did not take the Swine Flu vaccine that year and I did not come down with the flu at all that year. So why would I inject something in to my body that I obviously did not need. It's like my OB-Gyn doctor always says, "Pick your poison and pray."
    brandy1017 and Smartone86 like this.
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    One other tidbit to consider-we can't force school teachers to take a flu shot and they work directly with little children. So what do we teach everyone in the schools-common sense-wash your hands, don't touch your nose, cough in your elbow, and stay home until you are 24 hours without fever.
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    Quote from mcneillmama3
    Flu shots are not 100% effective, neither are they 100% safe for 100% of the people 100% of the time. These nurses that are putting blind faith in to their employers, the CDC and the FDA need to look at some of the research and history that I just got through studying in order to write my ethics paper. . . .
    Life is not 100% safe, and you have a 100% chance of dying. Vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective and have protected millions of people over the last century. They are not a public health threat.

    Perhaps if you have such personal concerns you may want to choose another career path besides nursing.
    notpuurfctbtgdenghns likes this.


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