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Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds 851

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hand-washing-heresy dept.
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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Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds

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  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:11AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:19AM (#42517119) Homepage Journal

      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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:26AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:01AM (#42517559)

          It goes further then that. Nurses frequently work with patients who have weakened immune systems. These people rely on others, especially medical personnel with whom they have to interact often, to not carry microorganisms that are threatening to their health in amounts significant enough for transmission.

          Frankly, this is a bit like pyromaniac trying to work as a fireman.

          • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

            by TheABomb (180342) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:23AM (#42517861)

            It goes further than that. Nurses frequently work with in a field that primarily concerns itself with increasing overall health and wellness. If their religious sensibilities are upset by that, they probably do need to find a new job.

            • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

              by TWX (665546) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:33AM (#42518017)
              I'm wondering what in the article-cited "Christian Faith" precludes immunization. Last time I checked, Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, and a whole host of other or "non denominational" sects or splinter groups all have no issue with immunizations or other medical procedures of any kind. The only mainstream Christian splinter that eschews immunizations and just about all other medical care is the ironically-named Christian Scientists.

              If she's not Christian Science, the faith-based claim should fall as short as the parents of schoolchildren that sued because little Suzie was dresscoded for wearing a crucifix charm necklace, with the court finding no religious mandate or directive to wear a crucifix charm necklace, and the dismissal of their suit.
              • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

                by samkass (174571) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:37AM (#42518061) Homepage Journal

                An earlier article cited her "belief that the vaccine might be harmful" as her "religious" objection, saying ANY belief is a "religion". That's preposterous on its face, so they may have dug deeper and tried to come up with actual religious ties now. But it's basically "I don't wanna".

                • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

                  by dywolf (2673597) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:06AM (#42518489)

                  Basic "I dont wanna" i can totally understand. Military makes me get the flu shot every year.
                  And every year, I get sick from it. Especially now that theyve switched to the nasal spray one; it's apparently "less dead" than the shot in the arm.

              • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Rich0 (548339) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:49AM (#42518235) Homepage

                You suggest that religious beliefs are only valid if they are institutional in nature. Religious beliefs are not a valid reason to put patients at risk, period. Whether everybody else in her church agrees with her or not is not relevant - only the demonstrated clinical outcomes of vaccination.

                And the best thing about (insert your favorite religion here) is that you're the only one that REALLY gets it. What do all true Christians believe? Well, if I profess to be a Christian then all true Christians believe exactly what I believe. If I profess to not be a Christian then they believe in whatever I consider most abhorrent. Nobody identifies themselves as "member of heretical sect." Everybody claims the orthodox for themselves.

              • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

                by dywolf (2673597) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:50AM (#42518267)

                my thoughts exactly. the only group I know of as well is the christian scientists, and they dont just eschew immunizations, but ALL medicine. they believe, as a core tenet, that all sickness is caused by fear or a lack of faith, and by extension that medicine isnt real. thus i find it hard to believe these nurses would be part of that group.

            • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

              by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:00PM (#42519271)

              THAT should be irrelevant. What matters isnt what they believe, but whether it has an impact on their job, which it does.

              I do not believe that the government should be able to force anyone to get an immunization. But certainly if theyre working in a situation where not being immunized puts others at risk, then they need to make a decision on whether their beliefs or their jobs are more important.

          • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:46AM (#42518201)
            Not disagreeing with your main point (infact I fully agree health professionals need flu shots unless they're provably allergic to them.) just your analogy. But many firemen are in fact pyromaniacs, they love fire. Many blow things up and set them on fire on their training grounds more for fun than for training. For many people it's the attraction to fire and things burning up that make them take up the job. This makes them better firemen too, someone who burns things in their spare time has better chances of fully understanding how to control and contain fires.
      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:26AM (#42517191) Journal

        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 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:30AM (#42517223) Homepage Journal

          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 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:06AM (#42517623)

            Ignoring the religious grounds part of the argument as it really doesn't come into play, it should be quite simple to look at the flu rates of those hospitals mandatory flu vaccinations vs those without. What one finds, when doing so, is that flu transmission is not based on whether or not the staff is immunized, but on the viral load of the patients, themselves. What has been found, though, is that flu vaccinations reduces loss work time from staff from contracting the flu (when the vaccines guessed right on what strain to produce). However, studies also show that proper hygiene measures by the staff also have the same effectiveness (ie. latex gloves, sanitizing hands, etc.).

            Based on the data, it appears that the mandatory flu vaccine has more to do with the business side of the hospital than with the patient care.

            • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

              by eyrieowl (881195) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:33AM (#42518009)
              Actually, I don't think it's true that the religious part of the argument doesn't come in to play. These nurses aren't making an argument from science. They're making an argument from religion, and then (after that turned out to be controversial) trying to find science to provide justification for their religious stance. So, while I do think we should discuss and clarify the science, there is no justification for the nurse's position or action.
            • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

              by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:37AM (#42518059) Homepage

              Based on the data, it appears that the mandatory flu vaccine has more to do with the business side of the hospital than with the patient care.

              You mean based upon your data. The CDC reports [cdc.gov] that compliance with hand washing runs around 40%. So while it may be as effective as vaccination, its effectiveness is directly limited by compliance rates.

              So if the hospital is concerned about flu transmission, particularly to the young, elderly and immunocompromised for whom flu could be fatal, what is the most effective way to reduce transmission?

              Proper hand hygiene should, of course, be in place in a hospital. But, despite years and years of effort, it still presents a problem. While that is the case, requiring a vaccination seems pretty reasonable for anyone who is patient facing and who does not have a documented medical condition that would make them an unsuitable candidate for the flu vaccine.

            • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

              by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:16PM (#42519495)

              What theyre making an argument from should be irrelevant in this case; they have the right to believe whatever they want, and the hospital has the right to set whatever policies it deems fit. If the two are in conflict, the natural course seems for the nurses to leave, and as a private institution this doesnt seem like a problem.

              Even if the hospital's policy were over the top, dangerous, or immoral, the nurses should probably leave regardless.

          • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

            by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill@gmailPARIS.com minus city> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:10AM (#42517671)

            A good point well made. Many people treat these questions as if they have obvious answers, but they don't.

            However, I would like to add my voice in favour of mandatory vaccinations. This may seem like a severe position to take, but I simply do not see any rational argument for allowing someone to refuse it.
            - Vaccines work. Nobody can deny this. There are years of data in various countries showing that getting your flu shot is statistically a good idea.
            - If at some point, our understanding of the subject is good enough that we can say, "don't take vaccine X if you have gene Y or condition Z", then that must be factored in. At present, if we don't have such information, the best guess we can make is that the vaccine is a good idea for the person.
            - One must raise the question of whether anyone has the right to risk getting an illness themselves. i.e., can I refuse the MMR shot and risk getting measles, mumps or rubella? Me getting a serious illness, needlessly, is just a waste of resources, which could be put towards patients with unavoidable ailments. I don't see why I should be allowed, without a damn good reason.
            - Is there any good reason? The article says that the vaccine was refused on religious grounds. What religious grounds, exactly? "Religion" is not a method for making arbitrary personal decisions.
            - Finally, if a valid argument can not be produced for why someone should be allowed to refuse it, I believe the remark:

            there is no evidence showing that vaccinated workers are less likely to transmit virus

            should also be considered as

            there is no evidence showing that vaccinated workers are more likely to transmit virus

            • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

              by kkwst2 (992504) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:24AM (#42517899)

              There is very good evidence for herd immunity for things like polio and measles. These vaccines are highly effective, and there has been very good epidemiologic evidence that 1) the vaccine is very effective 2) the disease is largely controlled when the majority of the population gets the vaccine, and 3) the disease beings to increase in frequency when vaccination rates wane.

              The evidence is much less compelling for the flu vaccine. It is complicated to study because its effectiveness varies drastically from year to year, based on whether they guess right about which strains to immunize against. This year and last appear to have been a bad guess. Some years are better, but there are respected epidemiologists that argue that the evidence overall on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in preventing hospitalizations and death is pretty weak.

              A hospital certainly has the right to make policies they believe are in the interest of their patients and fire people who don't follow those policies. But to suggest that we should all be getting the flu shot because it doesn't do any harm is stupid. It is a pretty substantial cost to society and its use and effectiveness, like all immunizations and medical treatments, should be evaluated critically.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:29AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by psmears (629712) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:35AM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:41AM (#42517313) Homepage Journal

          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 (Score:4, Informative)

            by zerosomething (1353609) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:57AM (#42517507) Homepage
            I have no particular evidence but here is my educated rambling. Yes if you are immunized you don't spread the virus as much as you might if you were not immunized and have the infection. You can be contagious for about 1 day without knowing you have the infection during that time you can spread it. According to the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm [cdc.gov]
            • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

              I have no particular evidence but here is my educated rambling. Yes if you are immunized you don't spread the virus as much as you might if you were not immunized and have the infection. You can be contagious for about 1 day without knowing you have the infection during that time you can spread it. According to the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm [cdc.gov]

              Vaccinated or not, in a hospital setting, during flu season, the major source of the spread of the virus is from infected patients, not the nursing staff. The vaccine protects the nursing staff, but it doesn't kill the virus in their system immediately, it keeps it from taking hold. Also, the virus can be spread by touch and the vaccine does not work on the surface of the skin, clothing, stethoscopes, thermometers, etc.

              I am in favor of the flu vaccine, however, its use is not preventative as in the polio v

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Exactly, the flu shot is a strange beast to me. It very much seems like a pharmaceutical ploy to have a guaranteed subscription based source of reoccurring revenue. I've personally known people who have gotten the flu shot and still got the flu "because the shot was for a different strain". These vaccinations are not the same as the ones we get when we are children for polio, small pox and other such things. One time shots that are proven to work and have eradicated diseases. The flu shot has no hope of era

        • by the_B0fh (208483)

          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 (Score:4, Insightful)

            by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:51AM (#42517431) Homepage Journal

            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.

      • by overshoot (39700)

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

        Yes.

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:22AM (#42517843)

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

          Yes.

          Not according to the CDC. The main benefit to immunizing hospital workers against the flu is that if their is a pandemic, they will be in a position to care for the sick. It has nothing to do with the reduced transmission of the virus by hospital staff.

          • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:47AM (#42518203)
            That would still be a perfectly good argument to make the vaccine mandatory for hospital staff. AAPS is using the old trick of picking one perceived benefit, putting it in doubt, and then claiming if that one benefit isn't true, the whole vaccine has to be useless. Similar to the "if it's not 100% effective with zero side effects it's not safe" argument. Orac has taken that group apart over and over again on Respectful Insolence.
      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Eraesr (1629799) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:57AM (#42517515) Homepage
        The question of whether or not flu shots actually works seems less interesting to me. The case here is that these people refused flu shots based on religious grounds and use that argumentation to combat the decision of the hospital. They aren't having issues with flu shots not working or flu shots being a possible cause of flu itself, no, they argue that their lord and savior instructed them not to take flu shots so they won't.

        The other side of the argument is that there are medical indications that flu shots prevent patients from possible exposure to influenza. It's a safety measure taken to protect patients. For the sake of that side of the argument, lets assume that flu shots simply work in the expected way. Again, whether it actually does or not is not important as that is not being questioned by these religious people.

        So here we have a discussion of patient safety versus religious belief. I find it insulting that a nurse would expose patients (which might one day include myself) to threats they could easily avoid by taking the shot. I think it's a pretty arrogant and selfish attitude, especially for a nurse.
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        He is flat out wrong to the point where it makes it questionable as to how he got his medical license.

        Frankly, it makes one wonder what is next? Can a pyromaniac work as a fireman and refuse to work on fire prevention on religious grounds?

      • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ethanms (319039) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:00AM (#42517541)

        Use common sense...

        A worker who is not sick will not be generating more of the virus to spread... they will not be blowing their nose, sneezing, coughing--spreading the virus around, which is reproducing and thriving at this point in them...

        So yeah... a not-sick worker is less likely to transmit the disease, right? And it's not possible to guarantee that sick workers will not come to work because some of them may be getting sick and not realize it, some of them may come to work regardless of being sick because they do not want to use sick time, etc...

        Vaccination is proven to result in fewer sick workers.

        Therefore it is a true statement that vaccinated workers will be less likely to transmit the virus.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KeithJM (1024071) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:55AM (#42518333) Homepage
        Check out the link on the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons in the summary:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_American_Physicians_and_Surgeons [wikipedia.org]

        Among other things, their official positions include that the HIV virus doesn't cause AIDS, human activity hasn't contributed to climate change, the FDA is unconstitutional, that medicare is "evil", and that people are conspiring to replace creationism with evolution. (also, that requiring mandatory immunizations is wrong. They aren't a medical advocacy group, they are a political advocacy group. If they quote peer-reviewed research that shows immunizations aren't effective (and not from their journal) then it will deserve a citation in response. Until then, they are just making stuff up.
    • Re:Good (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:54AM (#42517473)
      If they had refused the flu vaccine because they're allergic to eggs, would you still approve of them being fired?
      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:06AM (#42517617)

        If they had refused the flu vaccine because they're allergic to eggs, would you still approve of them being fired?

        Yes. Hospitals are critical infrastructure, and they need to be able to keep functioning during major epidemics, like the 1918 flu pandemic [wikipedia.org]. If a nurse may not be available for that, or is a possible vector for the disease, then he or she should be terminated and seek employment at a non-critical medical facility, like maybe a cosmetic surgery clinic.

        • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:23AM (#42517867)
          I actually agree with you. A health care giver who can't take the flu vaccine needs to be kept away from flu patients, and if that means finding another job, so be it. Kind of like the way I can't be a fighter pilot because I don't have 20/20 vision.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The hosptal can fit the bill for egg free flu shots http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/11/fda-approves-its-first-egg-free-seasonal-flu-vaccine.html.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:11AM (#42517049)

    you with new jobs.

  • by OffTheLip (636691) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:12AM (#42517055)
    I had to pee in a cup to get my first job. I didn't like it but I wanted the job.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:18AM (#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.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:23AM (#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.

      • by Fishead (658061) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:35AM (#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.

      • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:48AM (#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.

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:23AM (#42517163) Journal

      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.

  • by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:18AM (#42517097) Homepage Journal

    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]

    • by Huntr (951770) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:22AM (#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.

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:32AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bfandreas (603438)
        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
    • by Grashnak (1003791) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:34AM (#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.

  • by joostje (126457) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:18AM (#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
    • by gravis777 (123605) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:46AM (#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.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:18AM (#42517103) Journal

    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.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:52AM (#42519141)
      L4t3r4lu5's Corollary: The individual shall make no decision based upon religious ideology or belief, or demonstrably incorrect or incomplete reasoning, that will adversely affect the right of another individual to life and liberty.

      You may carry your crossbow and your chainsaw, and I begrudge you not your clown outfit. If you use any of them to inflict harm upon me, however, your religious belief will not be a defense.

      I think this is pretty fair.
  • 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.

    • by bfandreas (603438) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:52AM (#42517449)
      I don't get why the US press(even Slashdot) feels the needs to print opposing views no matter how disreputable and discredited in each and every article? "Fair and balanced" does not include handing a mike to the next nutter who does not agree that the sky is blue. If they were even as honest to say "AAPS(an organization with views widely disregarded in the medical community)" then they wouldn't give them creedence.
      And that's why a new name is all you need for your League of Nutjobs. Call it Concerned Parents for Sedentiary Equines. Instant Oprah invitation.

      Today a spokesman for the CPSE(Concerned Paravents for Sedentiary Equines) today has confirmed that indeed the world did end on December 21st. He has dismissed the comments of a Mayan spokesperson who said they 'simply started a new calendar as they always had planned'.
      There. Instant, reasonably sounding newsblurb. Totally asinine. Film at 11.
  • by AwaxSlashdot (600672) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:30AM (#42517225) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:35AM (#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.

  • by SilverJets (131916) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:39AM (#42517301) Homepage

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

  • by pubwvj (1045960) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:40AM (#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.

  • by AxemRed (755470) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:42AM (#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.
    • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:36AM (#42518055)
      Not that my anecdotal evidence matters, but I can attest to getting the flu shot and being sick after.

      My mother's a nurse and is, or at least was, a firm believer in the flu shot. She use to make me and my older sister get them every year. She stopped forcing me when I was seven because I was always violently ill afterwards. I hadn't had a flu shot in 20 years and never had more than the occasional head cold. Then last year my wife, who is also a firm believer in the flu shot, was pregnant and asked me to get one for her and the baby's sake. I did and wasn't terribly ill, but for a few days later I was nauseated and sluggish. I got a vaccine this year anyway, but this time I was violently ill. I ended up in the hospital for two days with sever "flu like symptoms" according to the doctor, who wouldn't believe I had gotten my shot. I'm not allergic to eggs so I'm not sure why I would be so sick all of the sudden after 20 years of being pretty healthy.

      I definitely believe in the logic of vaccinating as many people as possible and that it's beneficial to everyone, but I also feel the flu shot either doesn't always work as well as some believe, or that it can make some people sick. My wife says it's a one off and I probably already had the flu this year before getting the shot, which is obviously why I got sick. I'll get it again next year and see what happens, but if I'm as sick next year as I was this year, that's the end of it for me.

      Also, not to wear out my tinfoil hat, but I'd like to know how much the pharmaceutical industry makes off the flu vaccines and possibly what kind of effect that might have on "research" into it's benefits. I tried to look it up, but only found a few (dubious) sources stating that while they make less off vaccines than other drugs, they still me astronomical amounts. If true, I kind of see that as an incentive for them to lie about the benefits, it's a huge cash cow and you wouldn't want people to all the sudden find out it's a lot of hokey.
  • by Theovon (109752) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:45AM (#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.

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:04AM (#42517597) Homepage

    But just these eight were fired?
    Why are just these tiny minority being disciplined? If every other hospital allows free choice, does this one have the authority to without warning start to require it?

  • by Frequanaut (135988) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:09AM (#42517659)

    ya know?

  • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:15AM (#42517735) Journal

    "'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.'"

    No, its based on evidence of efficacy and safety.

  • Superspreaders (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:22AM (#42517839)
    There's more and more evidence that people who "Have Never Been Sick a Day in Their Lives", are in fact, typhoid Marys. They get colds and the flu just like the rest of us, but their immune systems don't go into overdrive, and they don't have symptoms, but they do spread germs to everyone else. Here's an article w.r.t. SARS http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1201971211000245 [sciencedirect.com]
  • by TheMathemagician (2515102) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:41AM (#42518141)
    Does anyone know what the Flying Spaghetti Monster's take on flu shots is?

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