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Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the hand-washing-heresy dept.

Medicine 851

Hugh Pickens writes writes "ABC News reports that Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital has fired eight employees after they refused mandatory flu shots, stirring up controversy over which should come first: employee rights or patient safety. The fired nurses include Joyce Gingerich and Sue Schrock who filed appeals on religious grounds. 'I feel like in my personal faith walk, I have felt instructed not to get a flu vaccination, but it's also the whole matter of the right to choose what I put in my body...' adding that she has not had a flu vaccine for 30 years as a result of a choice she made because of her Christian faith. Over the last several years, hospitals have been moving toward mandatory vaccinations because many only have 60 percent vaccination rates says Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Schaffner adds that nurses in particular tend to be the most reluctant to get vaccinated among health care workers, 'There seems to be a persistent myth that you can get flu from a flu vaccine among nurses,' says Schaffner. 'They subject themselves to more influenza by not being immunized, and they certainly do not participate in putting patient safety first.' But Jane M. Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, says the scientific case for flu vaccine mandates is very weak and that there is no evidence showing that vaccinated workers are less likely to transmit virus. 'The scientific and religious concerns are in a sense backward,' says Orient. 'Advocates of the mandate are full of evangelical zeal and are quick to portray skeptics as wicked and selfish. It's like a secular religion, based on faith in vaccine efficacy and safety.'"

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Good (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517045)

I'm pretty happy to hear they were fired for such dangerous, asinine, stupidity. One can only hope the hospital won't be sued, and if they are, that the hospital wins decisively and very quickly.

Re:Good (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 2 years ago | (#42517119)

Is Dr. Orient wrong? Is there evidence that immunized workers are less likely to transmit the virus.

I'm less interested in arguing the point and more interested in getting some information - which the link on that assertion does not do. It just goes to another story about this.

Re:Good (4, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#42517185)

Viruses live longer inside the body than outside, and so if a person is immunised against a particular virus, the time they can transmit it is reduced significantly. It's not a case of the immunisation making a person an incompatible target for the virus, but the immunisation making the person's body a place the virus simply can't exist in any dangerous form for a substantial length of time.

Re:Good (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42517191)

I am not an epidemiologist; but it is worth noting that the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons [wikipedia.org] is sort of a John Birch version of the American Medical Association, with some... intriguingly contrarian... theories on a variety of matters.

Whether they are, in fact, correct in this case, and 'herd immunity' doesn't work as expected for some reason with flu vaccines, is a somewhat different question; but I'd treat their pronouncements on matters medical with only slightly less skepticism than Discovery Institute work on evolutionary biology...

Re:Good (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 2 years ago | (#42517223)

I noticed that too - but at the end of it all the bottom line to me is, "What do the facts support?"

The op's response is just what the Dr. describes and if that response is based on her being wrong - then I think it is justified. But it ought to be pretty easy to point out if that is the case.

If no one actually knows for sure -- then I find being so self-righteous about it to be a bit problematic.

I get a flu shot every year. I am really glad vaccinations are available and my kids have had all theirs. But this specific ramification of being vaccinated or not I don't know much about.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517429)

Fuck political correctness. They present themselves like a yet another bunch of crackpots. That's seemingly all there's to them.

Re:Good (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517215)

Any statement she makes should be viewed with suspicion, check out the wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, it's journal has made some interesting statements such as 'that human activity has not contributed to climate change, and that global warming will be beneficial and thus not a cause for concern' and 'that HIV does not cause AIDS'.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

psmears (629712) | about 2 years ago | (#42517265)

Is Dr. Orient wrong? Is there evidence that immunized workers are less likely to transmit the virus.

'Flu is transmitted (among other routes) by airborne water droplets [virology.ws] . It also causes the sufferer to cough and sneeze (thus spraying such droplets).

It's hardly conclusive, but based on those facts I find it a little hard to believe that the vaccine (which will prevent the coughing and sneezing) has no effect on transmission...

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 2 years ago | (#42517313)

Makes sense to me too - but quite often when we actually study stuff we find that our common sense assertions are wrong.

If we are going to take away people's jobs I would rather it were based on scientific study.

And if it can be proven that their choice hurts patients - then yes let them get vaccinated or leave. It seems like if this is already known it ought to be easy to point out.

Otherwise decisions are being made without evidence. Given the current climate I'm not upset with getting rid of health care workers who wont get flu vaccinations because God told them not to. They may advise patients not to get vaccinations for more serious diseases. But I'm also worried about what thing some hospital administrator might decide is necessary next if they aren't held to a scientific standard.

Re:Good (2)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#42517333)

If you didn't catch the flu, or has the infection period considerably shortened by the vaccine, doesn't that count as a reduced effect on transmission?

Or am I living in a magical world again?

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 2 years ago | (#42517431)

Do you think it all boils down to something that simple? I bet there are more variables at play, especially in a hospital setting.

And the kind of dismissive insults that are so prominent in this thread indicate of level of certainty that ought to mean someone knows for sure. And I hope someone does. I like knowing rather than wondering. But I haven't seen someone offer up some solid information yet.

I have little tolerance for people who wont vaccinate their kids, because as I understand it hard science has shown that it's not going to give them autism but it will stop the spread of disease. I didn't just pick a position though immediately because I thought it was on the 'side' I wanted to be on. I read up whatever material I could understand. I'd love to have access to more information here to try and form an informed opinion rather than a knee jerk one.

I can think up scenarios where the benefits of flu vaccines for nurses in a hospital are negligible without resorting to magic. Honestly - I doubt that this is the case. But as I've said earlier in the thread - if we are going to fire people we should have solid facts backing up that action, not just assumptions. I'm funny that way.

Re:Good (2)

overshoot (39700) | about 2 years ago | (#42517369)

Is Dr. Orient wrong? Is there evidence that immunized workers are less likely to transmit the virus./p>

Yes.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517375)

even if virus transmission is not significantly reduced due to immunization, I would hope that basic hygiene of hospital workers does an adequate job.

I personally saw a major benefit of having nurses and doctors immunized in having them free from infection during an epidemic where they care for the infected.

They're worthless anyhow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517189)

Flu shots only vaccinate you against LAST YEAR's flu. It does nothing for the current strains. I haven't had the actual flu in many years and never get shots.

Re:They're worthless anyhow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517347)

Finally! That is correct. It is a myth that this year's shot will protect against this year's flu(s).
At best, they guess at what the strain might be, but without exception, everyone I know who
has received a shot this year is very ill; I'm not and have hot been shot.

Flu shots are a huge money making machine for the pharmaceutical companies, and they
haven't been around long enough to understand any long term effects.

Re:Good (0)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42517285)

One can only hope the hospital won't be sued, and if they are, that the hospital wins decisively and very quickly.

Agreed, and not just because of the vaccine issue, but also to reinforce the basic principle of "at-will" employment. Unless there is an employment contract that says otherwise, then employment, like any other arrangement between consenting adults, should be able to be terminated by either party for almost any reason, or for no reason at all. Your employer is not your mommy.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517307)

There more than likely will be legal action against the hospital, but as far as I'm aware no other institution with mandatory vaccination has lost yet.

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517433)

I guess personal choice and the right to dictate what enters ones own body doesn't count to you. I would imagine that you probably have a double standard though when it comes to so called "reproductive rights".

Re:Good (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#42517435)

Not sure I'd like them being fired, but at the same time, patient health should come first.

Perhaps a better middle ground:
1) Collect what safety precautions can be refused on religious grounds.
2) Patients are given wavers, saing "I'm willing to be treated by employees who have not gone through (specify subset) of [list of precautions]".
3) Patients willing to be treated by this group, can be organized together where possible. If there is no group large enough to be handled by the professionals who refused the precautions, then the professionals aren't given a shift.

Should have the same results, but provides the hospital with a nice CYA.

God will provide (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517049)

you with new jobs.

It's employers rights (5, Insightful)

OffTheLip (636691) | about 2 years ago | (#42517055)

I had to pee in a cup to get my first job. I didn't like it but I wanted the job.

Re:It's employers rights (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517107)

which should come first: employee rights or patient safety.

Employee rights include the right to get your ass to a new job.

Public safety should ALWAYS be #1 without exception.

Re:It's employers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517203)

If it really makes the public safer, but I haven't seen where that's been proven. Just because they've had the shot doesn't mean that they can't still spread the virus. I have had a shot about 4 years ago. I got it for the first time. I still got sick that season. Conversely, I haven't felt the need to do it since and I've had seasons where I didn't get sick at all. I seriously doubt the assertion that it is somehow safer for nurses to be required to take it. There's no clear cut benefit and it infringes on their personal rights.

Re:It's employers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517205)

Employees are public too you know.. just sayin'.. everyone is very fast to judge everyone else except themseleves, and can't believe that everyone else is just like them. I could agree with the nurses if they argued that their body was their property and they have the right to use/misuse it as they please. BTW some health workers also smoke and drink alcohol. Quick you better fire them all.

Re:It's employers rights (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42517157)

There's a big difference between requiring something to get a job (peeing in a cup) and making something a requirement after someone already has a job (requiring flu shots after a longtime policy of it being optional).

I work in a large nursing home and flu shots are offered here (free), but if you refuse it then you have to sign a document for the Dept of Health saying you opted out.

Re:It's employers rights (4, Funny)

Fishead (658061) | about 2 years ago | (#42517259)

Our new company policy says that we have to pee in a cup any time the employer asks.

The unofficial opinion in our department is "I'll pee in the cup any time you want, but you're holding the cup!". It's the front line management that suffers the most I tell you.

Re:It's employers rights (1)

OffTheLip (636691) | about 2 years ago | (#42517283)

If you have never worked in an environment where management changed policy consider yourself lucky or perhaps self employed. Once again, you as an employee don't control the work environment.

Re:It's employers rights (3, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | about 2 years ago | (#42517405)

There's a big difference between requiring something to get a job (peeing in a cup) and making something a requirement after someone already has a job (requiring flu shots after a longtime policy of it being optional).

It's really not a big difference. You just need to get rid of the idea that once you are hired, you are entitled to that job for good, until you either become unprofitable or start stealing staplers. It's the employers money, and they should be free to spend it how they please.

Re:It's employers rights (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#42517163)

I had to pee in a cup to get my first job. I didn't like it but I wanted the job.

Yeah well, that's pretty bloody stupid.

Infecting sick people with flu where your job is to make them better seriously inhibits your ability to do your job.

Smoking weed on a holiday to the Netherlands 1 week before starting work does not. Employee drug tests are needlessly intrusive and entirely pointless for almost all jobs.

Not only that, but they don't even work for the most common things, like being whacked out on over the counter cold meds and trying to operate machinery. Oh and they can give "false positives" (not really false) if you eat too many poppy seeds from normal rather than opium poppies.

Re:It's employers rights (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#42517175)

Mod Up. I missed your post and wrote the same thing below.

Re:It's employers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517235)

>> I had to pee in a cup to get my first job. I didn't like it but I wanted the job.

I worked at Orange Julius once too.

Re:It's employers rights (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42517401)

I had to pee in a cup to get my first job. I didn't like it but I wanted the job.

How did you manage to confuse these two issues? Pissing in a cup is a matter of unreasonable search of your person, that is bullshit. Forcing health care workers to get a shot proven to reduce risks for them and their patients is another thing entirely. I don't want to take that shot, but then, I'm not a health professional.

Selfish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517063)

quick to portray skeptics as wicked and selfish

You are selfish if you refuse on religious grounds.

the scientific case for flu vaccine mandates is very weak and that there is no evidence showing that vaccinated workers are less likely to transmit virus

You would not be so selfish if you refused on lack of evidence.

These bitches (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517077)

Should not have been working in a hospital in the first place, from the looks of it. Superstition over science, what a failure.

Re:These bitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517121)

I hope in a few years it becomes mandatory for you to take shots of something you don't believe in, and that from your experience you know it will make you sick.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517083)

Your rights stop where mine begin.You have every right to make religious decisions for yourself, you do not, however to make religious decisions for others or to make religious decisions for yourself that will affect others. They are health care professionals who handle patients, they can make people sick by choosing to honor their religious beliefs and they damn well should have been fired.

Re:Good! (-1, Troll)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42517183)

By that logic, nobody should be allowed to drive a car. A car has the potential to infringe on the rights of others, just like refusing a flu shot has the potential to make you sick or a carrier. It's not a guarantee you will get sick or make other people sick, it just increases the odds slightly.

Re:Good! (5, Insightful)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about 2 years ago | (#42517381)

Strawman/car analogy FAIL There ARE laws against driving in a such a way to "infringe on the rights of others", so nobody is allowed to drive a car that way.

There SHOULD be laws against religion having any kind of sway over the science that is healthcare. If your religious views conflict with that, drive a bus.

Re:Good! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42517373)

The language is a bit archaic; but Locke really nailed it in his 'Letter Concerning Toleration':

"In the next place: As the magistrate has no power to impose by his laws the use of any rites and ceremonies in any Church, so neither has he any power to forbid the use of such rites and ceremonies as are already received, approved, and practised by any Church; because, if he did so, he would destroy the Church itself: the end of whose institution is only to worship God with freedom after its own manner.

You will say, by this rule, if some congregations should have a mind to sacrifice infants, or (as the primitive Christians were falsely accused) lustfully pollute themselves in promiscuous uncleanness, or practise any other such heinous enormities, is the magistrate obliged to tolerate them, because they are committed in a religious assembly? I answer: No. These things are not lawful in the ordinary course of life, nor in any private house; and therefore neither are they so in the worship of God, or in any religious meeting. But, indeed, if any people congregated upon account of religion should be desirous to sacrifice a calf, I deny that that ought to be prohibited by a law. Meliboeus, whose calf it is, may lawfully kill his calf at home, and burn any part of it that he thinks fit. For no injury is thereby done to any one, no prejudice to another man's goods. And for the same reason he may kill his calf also in a religious meeting. Whether the doing so be well-pleasing to God or no, it is their part to consider that do it. The part of the magistrate is only to take care that the commonwealth receive no prejudice, and that there be no injury done to any man, either in life or estate. And thus what may be spent on a feast may be spent on a sacrifice. But if peradventure such were the state of things that the interest of the commonwealth required all slaughter of beasts should be forborne for some while, in order to the increasing of the stock of cattle that had been destroyed by some extraordinary murrain, who sees not that the magistrate, in such a case, may forbid all his subjects to kill any calves for any use whatsoever? Only it is to be observed that, in this case, the law is not made about a religious, but a political matter; nor is the sacrifice, but the slaughter of calves, thereby prohibited."

Someone who exercises state power('the magistrate') may not either enforce or forbid specific religious practices without doing unjust violence to the religious liberty of others. However, merely attaching the stamp of 'religious practice' to a given action does not render it immune from magisterial power, so long as that power is exercised uniformly, and for the purposes that the magistrate is justly responsible for.

In this case, it would be clearly unjust(and unconstitutional, since the intellectual grunt work on the constitution was mostly done by Lockeian enlightenment types) to, say, suppress the 'Christian Scientists' for their curious abstention from most modern medicine. However, it would in no way be unjust to impose a uniform requirement on all medical workers in close contact with patients that they be immunized against common and dangerous infectious diseases, regardless of whether their objections are religious or otherwise.

Re:Good! (2)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#42517403)

To play a bit of devil's advocate here: could not the nurse make the exact same argument? The patient's right to be protected ends when it involves injecting a substance into the caregiver. Especially when you consider that if the same caregiver is following proper hygiene for someone in his or her position, chances of infection are already minimal -- even if they got the flu, and even if they actually came into work while infected with the flu.

Not saying that I agree with the nurses' decisions here, but certainly I can understand them from that perspective.

Herd Immunity (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517085)

If you can't understand the concept of herd immunity you don't need to be working in the medical field. Good riddance to ignorant bible-thumpers.

News for nerds, stuff that matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517089)

I mean, this is an important topic and everything, and really gets at the division between religious freedoms and the line on patient safety. But I'm just not seeing the connection to TECHNOLOGY on this story. Slashdot is supposed to be about the latest technology news, news for nerds. Maybe this is just a slow news day, but I'm hoping the editors didn't drop a technology innovation story in favor of an item about flu shots for nurses.

Re:News for nerds, stuff that matters? (3, Informative)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#42517127)

Nerd == only interested in tech? False.

Besides, vaccinations are technology.

Re:News for nerds, stuff that matters? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517153)

But I'm just not seeing the connection to TECHNOLOGY on this story.

Biomedicine (i.e. vaccines) are technology.

Slashdot is supposed to be about the latest technology news, news for nerds.

Bzzzzzt. WRONG. The title of the site is simply "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters."

And even if you want to argue the technology angle to no end, you still haven't explained how this doesn't qualify as "Stuff that Matters".

As was already stated by someone else, Jane M. Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, has completely missed the point. The nurses are not rejecting this on any kind of scientific grounds, but on a religious belief. If they chose to reject immunizations based solely on the lack of evidence (debatable) then I would be willing to at least consider their point of view. But as it is based on a religious belief not founded in science, I refuse to even discuss it. Go find some other job where you are not directly responsible for the safety of others if you wish to push your superstitious nonsense around.

Re:News for nerds, stuff that matters? (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#42517197)

> But I'm just not seeing the connection to TECHNOLOGY on this story.

Medicine is technology.

Deal with it.

Furthermore, there are different types of nerds. There are medical nerds too, just as there are astronomical nerds, chemistry nerds, and computer nerds. Would it be nerdy to have a tattoo of caffeine on your arm if you're a pharmacy tech, student, or registered pharmacist? You betcha.

There are model railroad nerds too.

Nerds are everywhere.

OB Topic:

If you are a nurse, your first priority is to not harm patients. This means you should prevent yourself from being a carrier of diseases that can kill, and the flu kills thousands of people every year. There is no excuse except actual allergy, and if that's the case, you should be assigned to push more paperwork as an RN during flu season (LPNs aren't allowed to push as much paperwork).

The accusation that flu vaccine proponents are "just as evangelical" as the anti-vaxxers is an IKYABWAI argument better left for the elementary school recess playground.

--
BMO

Re:News for nerds, stuff that matters? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42517207)

How about this for a technology slant to the story? I happen to work in the IT department of a good sized nursing home. It's very, very rare for me to interact with residents. Should I be required to get the flu shot too or should it be limited to people with direct resident interaction? As it stands now, they offer the flu shot free but I can waive it (DOH paperwork is involved either way).

Patient comes first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517091)

If your beliefs, religion or whatever goes against the rules of work (without even considering that they can cost the lives of people), why did you take the job in the first place?, one's rights end where the other's begin.

It's a hospital (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517093)

I'm for religious freedom but it's a hospital. It's focused on patient care. Your rights as an employee end where it can affect the patient care. Let's pretend it's smoking.

Re:It's a hospital (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517243)

The difference is that second hand smoke has been proven to cause cancer. Not taking the vaccine has proven to do what? I'm not even sure you could say it raises the likelyhood of getting sick. It certainly hasn't proven to stop transmission, just that if you happen to get it you'll fight it off faster. Maybe.

Bad Career Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517095)

IF a HealthCare worker refuses a standard immunization vaccine, they should find other work.

Why are we quoting the AAPS? (5, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | about 2 years ago | (#42517097)

The AAPS is a fringe group with less than 3000 doctors. It's like the American Osteopathy Association: its members are whack jobs, not real doctors.

Of course there's evidence that vaccination reduces transmission. Did OP even try to research that claim or its source before reprinting it? Did we think the pertussis wave in northern California came from some reason other than that non-vax transmit where vax don't?

So tired of this knee-jerk "well let's give time to the other side" bullcrap. No. Figure out if they're insane first.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=vaccinated+less+likely+to+transmit [lmgtfy.com]

Re:Why are we quoting the AAPS? (4, Informative)

Huntr (951770) | about 2 years ago | (#42517137)

You beat me to it. My 1st thought was "wtf is the AAPS?"

From the linked wiki, they're "a politically conservative non-profit association founded in 1943 to 'fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine.'"

Oh.

Re:Why are we quoting the AAPS? (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#42517245)

A little googling finds lots, lots more dirt on the AAPS. It's basically a conservative pressure group pretending to be a medical organisation.

Re:Why are we quoting the AAPS? (3, Interesting)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#42517261)

Back in my university days I met a lot of medical students that did hold esoteric beliefs that defied sense and reason. Without any scientific backing. I'm not talking religion but physically unsound things. One had ampules of water duct taped to her dorm walls to counter the earths magnetic field which caused her sleeplessness. There was of course also the Jesus squad. And homeopathy. And other assorted nonesense
Funnily I never met such nut jobs in the physics and maths and CS faculties. Just a couple of delicious yet socially awkward nerdlings. Including the girls.

IMHO it is high time to not honor the religious feelings of other people. They need to grow a pair. Ovaries/testies, whichever they prefer.

Re:Why are we quoting the AAPS? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517305)

Do you think that's a bad thing? Perhaps you should look at other countries who have socialized medicine before you go thinking it's such a good idea. I'd suggest Canada, or Cuba. All their people are healthy and happy right? Sure the elite get decent treatment, but what about the common man? Oh wait, what's that you say about dying of cancer while waiting for treatment? Broken bones that don't heal correctly and have to be broken and reset because the wait to see a doctor was 6 weeks? In the case of Canada they pay more than 50% of their income in taxes largely to support an ineffective and broken healthcare system. Of course if you're a politician or national figure you jump to the front of the line, but for the majority of their people it sucks.

Re:Why are we quoting the AAPS? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517387)

Funny, I'm from the UK where they DO have the National Health Service and I always got in to see my doctor the same day I made the appointment as long as it wasn't too late in the day. And FYI I'm about as far from being elite as you can get...

Re:Why are we quoting the AAPS? (4, Insightful)

Grashnak (1003791) | about 2 years ago | (#42517249)

The AAPS is a fringe group with less than 3000 doctors.

Exactly this. I am so sick of articles quoting fringe groups with authoritative sounding names but failing to disclose the fringe nature of the group.

The dead giveaway, of course, was the part where the alleged doctor tried to claim there was no scientific basis for vaccination... Fucking loons.

Re:Why are we quoting the AAPS? (0)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 2 years ago | (#42517371)

The AAPS is a fringe group with less than 3000 doctors.

I don't know or care who the AAPS is, but saying "less than 3000 doctors" makes it seem like that's a really really low number, and I don't think it is.

With 3,000 doctors and an average number of doctors per capita in the US of 2.3, that's enough to service 1.3 million people.
Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Delaware, Montana and Rhode Island all have a smaller population than that.

Of course, when you compare it to the 300 million people in the US, 1 million isn't a lot, but neither is the population of either of the aforementioned states, and I don't think you'd be that quick to dismiss their concerns.

That being said, I personally believe that not being vaccinated is a rather idiotic and outright selfish thing to do if you aren't allergic to it - herd immunity and all that.

Influenza vaccination has been shown highly effect (5, Informative)

joostje (126457) | about 2 years ago | (#42517099)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flu_vaccine#Benefits_of_vaccination [wikipedia.org] Influenza vaccination has been shown highly effective in health care workers (HCW), with minimal adverse effects. In a study of forty matched nursing homes, staff influenza vaccination rates were 69.9% in the vaccination arm versus 31.8% in the control arm. The vaccinated staff experienced a 42% reduction in sick leave from work (P=.03).[33] A review of eighteen studies likewise found a strong net benefit to health care workers

Re:Influenza vaccination has been shown highly eff (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#42517359)

And that doesn't even measure the reduction in harm to patients, but if the nurses are gettingcsick less, they are also protecting patients.

Re:Influenza vaccination has been shown highly eff (3, Interesting)

gravis777 (123605) | about 2 years ago | (#42517379)

Yes, but that is not what the blurb is stating - they are arguring about patient safty. A Flu vaccine helps you build up an immunity to the virus - in other words, if you are exposed to it, you are less likely to get sick, and if you do, the symptoms are not as bad. Getting a flu vaccine does NOT mean that you will not carry the virus. As such, firing on the grounds that they fired these workers on is not based on science, and as such, there is no grounds for termination. Whether the workers refused the vaccine based on religious grounds or not is moot.

Now, if they said the workers were fired becasue the shots were mandnitory to cut down on worker sick time, that would be different, at which point it becomes a question of if an employer has the right to pass mandates that violates workers religious beliefs. However, as these workers are already in the medical field, it's hard for me to believe that they can seriously claim refusing vacinations based on religious beliefs.

Re:Influenza vaccination has been shown highly eff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517391)

Well, if that's all it is (a benefit to the health workers), then it's still their call whether to get vaccinated or not, even if the statistics show they would be stupid not to. The relevant question is whether it reduces transmission rates between patients, at which point it becomes a patient safety/employment issue. In other words, what matters is if it is something that could be legitimately imposed as a condition of doing the job as a healthcare worker -- kind of like the way that "washing your hands" isn't an optional thing that you can refuse to do on religious grounds either.

Of course this healthcare worker has the right to decide what to put in her body. Always. But her employer should have a right to refuse to employ her further if she doesn't follow demonstrably effective healthcare practices, just like she'd probably be fired eventually for not ever washing her nursing uniform or her body, or constantly showing up at work with contagious diseases and not wearing sterile gloves or masks.

Of course patient safety comes first. (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#42517103)

Of course patient safety should come before religous crap.

I'm very much for equality under the law, and "religious reasons" for refusal amount to no more than someone saying "I don't want to" for unspeficied reasons.

If you refuse to do your job for unspecified reasons (and a nurse leaving themselves prone to serious transmissible infections pretty much counts) then you get fired. If not, then anyone could refuse to do anything they don't like (e.g. hard work). If you allow it for "religious reasons" and not "other reasons" then you are state sponsoring a particular religion over a particular other religion.

After all, serviscope_minorism (in which I believe with utter faith) tells me that that 3p4pm on a wednesday afternoon is the only non holy time I'm allowed to work, and for religious reasons, I need to be allowed to carry a loaded crossbow and running chainsaw as well as wearing a clown outfit.

Religion has nothing to do with it except it gives people "reasons" to make entire series of whacky choices.

What scripture says that? (2)

minogully (1855264) | about 2 years ago | (#42517133)

I'm sure we can all agree that the bible definitely doesn't say no to vaccines out-right, since vaccines didn't exist when the bible was written, so this must be an interpretation of a scripture that says something general or vague.

Can anyone give an example of what scripture this might be?

If not, I'm thinking that this "religion" thing is just an excuse that she tells other people, but the real reason is that she just thinks they're bad without any real evidence.

Re:What scripture says that? (1)

fredrated (639554) | about 2 years ago | (#42517395)

That's my question: what in their religion says they shouldn't get vaccinated?

Re:What scripture says that? (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#42517413)

Since when are people's nonsensical religious beliefs limited to what's in the bible? You can find an irresponsible and/or delusional preacher spouting any damned thing.

AAPS - The Fox News of medical associations (4, Informative)

John3 (85454) | about 2 years ago | (#42517141)

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is a well known conservative medical association. Considering they only have about 3,000 members it's kind of silly to even seek their opinion. They certainly have a right to lobby for changes to government health care policy decisions but when they cross the line and contradict verified and tested scientific and medical research they should be ignored. They were one of the groups on the anti-vaccine bandwagon back in 2003.

Which association? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517145)

"But Jane M. Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons"

Who cares what a political advocacy group says? They oppose any mandatory vaccination.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_American_Physicians_and_Surgeons

More sky-daddy bogusware (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517155)

Religion is the root of so much stupidity in our society.

I hope they get other jobs taking care of clergy. That's what both deserve.

How about employers rights? (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#42517171)

Employment is an agreement between two people or legal entities. You do what I say and I'll pay you. If the employees don't want to do what the employer says they need to find another job.

Re:How about employers rights? (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about 2 years ago | (#42517281)

When it comes to public health - it's a little bit more than just a contract between the employer and employee.

Re:How about employers rights? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 2 years ago | (#42517377)

What the fuck? So the employee CAN'T refuse and go find another job? What are you saying that isn't covered by OP?

Previously Unknown 11th Commandment? (1)

Cuddlah (2677847) | about 2 years ago | (#42517179)

Thou shalt not get a flu shot? Seriously, I can get behind the notion that, if a person has doubts about the efficacy or effects of getting a flu shot, they should be able to choose whether or not to get one without social or professional ramifications. But what is with all of these objections being written down to religious beliefs? Where in the Bible did Jesus ever say anything about flu shots?

Re:Previously Unknown 11th Commandment? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#42517251)

Thou shalt not get a flu shot? Seriously, I can get behind the notion that, if a person has doubts about the efficacy or effects of getting a flu shot, they should be able to choose whether or not to get one without social or professional ramifications. But what is with all of these objections being written down to religious beliefs? Where in the Bible did Jesus ever say anything about flu shots?

I disagree there. If you work in healthcare, you are supposed to help people getting well, and you do that by using generally accepted methods. You may have your opinion about whether some treatment is good or bad, but you still have to use the treatment that is accepted as the best one - even if you personally disagree. Because it is assumed here that the majority opinion is better informed than you are. So if you are a nurse, and you are told that a flu shot keeps patients safe and you disagree, you have no leg to stand on. (I am talking about generally accepted things here; the uninformed opinion of your immediate superior would be something totally different).

On the other hand, if you refuse because of religious reasons, that is much closer to acceptable to me. Still not acceptable, but more acceptable. Or if you get into a panic whenever someone approaches you with a needle, that is much closer to acceptable. But disagreeing with the majority opinion how your job should be done properly, no.

I should be ok to wear a suicide bomb vest to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517195)

It is part of my religion! I will sue you for discrimination if you foil my plot.

The nurse is a crackpot (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42517209)

The justification alone should have her banned from coming near patients ever again. Its like "oh, I have this fantasy that tells me whatever I should do and in order to squash any criticism, I will call it "faith"". How pathetic can you get?

Re:The nurse is a crackpot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517321)

To answer that question, take a look in the mirror.

Right to Choose (0, Troll)

Comboman (895500) | about 2 years ago | (#42517217)

I wonder how many of the people applauding the limiting of these women's rights to control their own bodies when it puts another life at risk are pro-choice on the topic abortion?

Re:Right to Choose (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517267)

Their rights to control their bodies are not being limited in any way. In fact, their rights are not being limited in any way, period. They are legally allowed, and have every right to refuse a flu shot on religious grounds if they wish. They also, do and should have they right to have an abortion. They do not, however, have the right to a job nor do they have the right to make religious decisions that will affect others, certainly not unwitting patients. Knowingly choosing to expose people to illness is actually a crime, and damn well should be. Their rights are not being limited or violated in any way this case, in fact the opposite is true, they are trying to violate and limit the rights of others.

Re:Right to Choose (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | about 2 years ago | (#42517273)

In today's life lesson, you learn the difference between the life of a human being being treated in hospital and the life of a fetus.

Re:Right to Choose (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#42517287)

They are more than welcome to express their right to control their own bodies, but not when that puts people in their care at risk, which makes this fundamentally different the abortion debate.

Consider this to be closer to a person of a particular religious orientation that requires them to never, ever bathe, wash any part of their body or wear gloves, who wants to work as a chef in a public restaurant... Ain't going to happen.

Re:Right to Choose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517291)

we're pro-choice, they have the freedom to not take the shot, they are also free to not needlessly kill patients by working somewhere else. On the subject of abortion the need less deaths are the ones resulting from un-safe methods of abortion where desperate mothers do not have access to qualified medical care. Not a problem to be pro-choice in both scenarios.

Re:Right to Choose (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#42517329)

There is no scientific way to put a pinpoint on when a fetus is an independent being. Therefore its in the realm of philosophy and religion.

In religion you can believe what you want, but in the U.S. (for now) there is no legal compulsion to believe one way or another.

So if accept the premise that it's NOT scientific reasoning then the "pro life" debate is exact same thing as we have here: i.e. "my religious rights trump your rights."

Re:Right to Choose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517367)

I wonder how many of the people applauding the limiting of these women's rights to control their own bodies when it puts another life at risk are pro-choice on the topic abortion?

She continues to exercise full control over her body. She's just not able to do so at her previous job.

Employee can change job, patient cannot (2)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#42517225)

So if the nurse is not okay with the flu shots, she has the choice to go elsewhere for another kind of job.
While when a patient arrives in a hospital, he should not have to choose an establishment which respects the minimal sanitary practices.

I say fuck the man in the sky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517241)

Yeah, that guys evil.

If these people believe in a man in the sky, why the fuck would I want to trust them when I am at my most vulnerable, in a hospital.

Fuck them off, not because they are refusing the injection, just because they are fucking insane and irrational.

Evidence-based best practices limit liability (2, Informative)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 2 years ago | (#42517263)

It's a generally free country. People can do and say and think what they want, whether it is supported by evidence or not. However, to avoid legal liability in medicine, and other public safety / public service occupations, one must adhere to evidence-based best practices.

You can secretly believe that getting naked, painting yourself with fresh cow's blood while running in circles and barking at the moon will keep you disease-free, that's your right. However, until your study results are repeated and published in a peer-reviewed journal, don't expect the hospital to pay you to do it or advocate it to patients.

Re:Evidence-based best practices limit liability (4, Funny)

greg1104 (461138) | about 2 years ago | (#42517343)

You can secretly believe that getting naked, painting yourself with fresh cow's blood while running in circles and barking at the moon will keep you disease-free, that's your right.

It turns out to be pretty hard to keep that secret.

Do No Harm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517269)

As someone who works at an institution with mandatory vaccination policies, I can say that if there was actually a verifiable religious objection (for example such as Jehova's Witnesses) an outside arbiter (usually a Judge or former Judge, someone not affiliated with either the institution or the employee) will more than likely grant a waiver after sitting with the employee in question. The fact that no such waiver was granted leads me to believe that these folks "found God" because they didn't want to get a shot.

At the end of the day, they are health care workers. Their primary responsibility is the health and well being of those in their care. Not availing themselves of a safe, effective, and proven technique to help minimize risk to those patients is irresponsible, selfish, and potentially dangerous not only to patients, but the public at large.

Why are they even nurses? (4, Insightful)

SilverJets (131916) | about 2 years ago | (#42517301)

If their faith prevents them from getting something as simple as a flu shot why are they even working in the field of medicine???

Good - Hers is irresponsible behavior (4, Insightful)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#42517311)

About 48,000 people a year die of influenza. She is in the position to be a super carrier, picking it up from a patient and transmitting it on to many other people. It is in appropriate for her to be a nurse if she refuses to prevent the transmission of disease to patients. She should move into an isolated administrative role well away from other people at best. Firing is appropriate.

It should be mandatory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517323)

Cold hard statistics show that a higher vaccination rate amongst primary care personnel, reduce flu infections amongst the patients.
And directly correlates to a lower fatality rate amongst weaker and elderly patients.
These guys are idiots and should be fired.

Of course thay do have a point, being afraid of needles or something. But they also chose a proffession with a responsibility.

in regards to getting the flu from the flu vaccine (5, Insightful)

AxemRed (755470) | about 2 years ago | (#42517331)

People say that you get the "flu" from the flu vaccine because "flu" has become such a generic term for being ill. People say they have the "stomach flu" when they have norovirus or food poisoning of some kind. They say they have a "touch of the flu" when they have a cold. They don't realize that influenza is a specific illness that has a very specific set of symptoms. This is a pet peeve of mine.

That being said, many of the symptoms of the flu or a cold are caused by your immune system's own response to the virus rather than the virus itself. A vaccine causes an immune response too. Some people really do feel slightly unwell after getting a flu vaccine or any other vaccine. This is why they say it gives them the flu: because they don't define the flu properly, and because the vaccine really does make them feel under the weather. If you look at the side effects of the vaccine, they do somewhat resemble the flu (although they're much milder):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flu_vaccine#Side_effects [wikipedia.org]

I don't personally get the flu shot because I don't get the flu that often anyway, and I figure I'll just take my chances. But it's completely reasonable to expect healthcare workers to be vaccinated when they're dealing with some groups of people who are particularly susceptible to the flu.

Conflicts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517339)

And what do you think the response to "It is against my personal faith to wash my hands." would be? Moronic.

I'm calling bullshit on thea religious part (1)

scourfish (573542) | about 2 years ago | (#42517351)

Did this lady have zero vaccines taken at all? If she has been had zero vaccinations, then she would be justifiably be fired. Did she only refuse the flu vaccine? If she only refused the flu vaccine and took other vaccines, then the religious argument is a cop out.

Not all vaccinations work the same! (2)

Theovon (109752) | about 2 years ago | (#42517355)

Vaccinations are not a permanent cure (or prevention rather) for a given disease. Many require regular booster shots, and some are so ineffective (e.g. Hep-B) that the CDC and OSHA have made them optional. This relative lack of effectiveness is often cited by the anti-vaccine folks as evidence that they're not worth getting, although they convenient leave out that most vaccines are otherwise harmless, outbreaks can be contained by short-term and weak vaccines, and some vaccines are amazingly effective, like the rabies vaccine. In fact, the rabies vaccine is amusingly left unmentioned in all of the anti-vaccine literature I've seen, because it stands out as a paragon of long-term and high effectiveness in vaccines.

It's also amazing how polarized people get about this. Either it's the holy grail, and we should take them quickly, no matter what, or they're terrible and should never be taken. People don't seem to talk about picking and choosing based on risk and benefit factors, and none of them talk about spreading them out so as to avoid giving a poor kid the symptoms of too many diseases at once. Vaccines can be hard on the immune system and make kids feel miserable, and it makes me angry that doctors often want to give more than one at a time.

What Religious Grounds? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#42517357)

There are no religious grounds here. I am Christian, have read the Bible front to back a couple of times and don't recall any prohibition on flu shots. Basically this person has a personal conviction against flu shots. That is absolutely fine. However, that means the nurses are in violation of company rules which make a lot of sense. It is the hospital's right to fire them.

No controversy here.

it's a rights issue. (1)

ethanms (319039) | about 2 years ago | (#42517421)

I am required to get vaccinated to travel... it's a requirement of my government and my employer. I go along with it because why not--I trust that what they're injecting me with is a vaccine... I trust that it's been tested... I trust that those tests results are completely revealed and that it is safe.

Today these nurses are being required to get these injections... Many of the initial arguments here are attacking them based on it being a religious decision, and citing statistics that say the vaccine is effective is safe... OK, that's fine... and I agree, it probably is safe and effective.

What happens if tomorrow employers start requiring an injection of an amphetamine-like substance at the start of each shift? It will be chemical altered and the dosages strictly controlled--deemed safe by the medical community and hundreds of thousands of other users. Is it OK for them to require this? You'll be more productive during those hours you're at work, you won't suffer any long term ill effects... so why shouldn't they require this? If you don't like it, you can feel free to find another job (except maybe there aren't any...)

My point being that it can be a slippery slope when we start to allow government and employers to control our bodies under the guise of what is good for us, our jobs, or whatever other reason they want to bring up. ...and the fact that a huge portion of the general population is using a certain substance, or that it's endorsed by the medical community, does not give me a huge amount of faith in it's safety--smoking is a huge example of how that can be wrong.

As far I'm concerned the verdict is still out on cell phones and other microwave-level close range transceivers... I use them constantly, I'm not afraid of them... but I also will not be surprised if during my lifetime strong evidence appears that prolonged and long-term use of these devices correlates to vastly higher instances of cancers.

USA against vaccination (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about 2 years ago | (#42517423)

The first time I heard these stories about some people against vaccines, I got really shocked. Is something only in USA, or is it common in other countries? Just to be fair, I'm brazilian, and here vaccines are faced like a good thing.
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