Flu Shot Selfishness

  • by: |
  • 01/14/2013
Many hospitals and health systems are telling employees who work in patient settings to get a flu shot or get another job.   

Good for them and good for those who could otherwise be exposed to someone with influenza.  Hospitals, nursing homes, and physician offices are happy hunting grounds for viruses since the odds of infecting -- and killing -- an immunocompromised patient are much higher in those settings.   I agree with Art Caplan: 

"Medical ethicist Art Caplan says health care workers' ethical obligation to protect patients trumps their individual rights.

"If you don't want to do it, you shouldn't work in that environment," said Caplan, medical ethics chief at New York University's Langone Medical Center. "Patients should demand that their health care provider gets flu shots — and they should ask them."

For some people, flu causes only mild symptoms. But it can also lead to pneumonia, and there are thousands of hospitalizations and deaths each year. The number of deaths has varied in recent decades from about 3,000 to 49,000.

A survey by CDC researchers found that in 2011, more than 400 U.S. hospitals required flu vaccinations for their employees and 29 hospitals fired unvaccinated employees."

Meanwhile Shannon Brownlee of the New America Foundation, the reputed health care expert who never saw a patient or worked in the industry,  is a cheerleader for this selfishness.   If you don't count Bill Maher..   (I wonder if you need a flu shot to party at the Playboy Mansion?) 

To be sure, there are those on the right who also regard vaccination as somehow another form of government control..I have laid into them as well. 

Finally,  the vaccination shortfall among health workers reflects the transformation of the scientific method into a propaganda tool for organizing against and calling for the regulation (and removal) of every so-called "danger."      Data dredging to establish statistical associations between what is regarded as evil has proliferated and turned most medical journals into stringers for bloggers, activitsts, the media and politicians of all stripes.   With regard to the flu vaccine, we are still paying for the assault on vaccine safety (led by the media) of years past.   Some vaccines are less potent in part because of fears.  We have blunted the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine and have spawned a generation of 20-somethings with the highest rate of oral, throat, anus and mouth cancers ever.    

If we use science to foreclose all things defined as danger, we will also increase exposure to unforseen events and we degrade our ability to respond to them.   

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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