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Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds 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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Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds

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  • by stonecypher ( 118140 ) <> 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. []

  • by joostje ( 126457 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:18AM (#42517099) [] 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 somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:22AM (#42517127) Homepage Journal

    Nerd == only interested in tech? False.

    Besides, vaccinations are technology.

  • 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.'"


  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <john3.cornells@com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:22AM (#42517141) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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, 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 [] 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'.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:47AM (#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: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 []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:02AM (#42517579)

    People WERE dying by the millions. Influenza, smallpox, polio, diptheria... guess what? Vaccines were developed and now smallpox has been eradicated while the risk of polio and diptheria has been reduced so much many people have never heard of either of them.

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:07AM (#42517633) Journal

    Oh my oh my what did we do back in the stone age of the 50's and 60's before the flu shots??

    Yeah, because healthcare hasn't improved since the 60s.

    Read the AC reply.


    Simple precautions like a mask, hand washing and staying home if sick will do more than the flu shot.

    Only up to a point. Having people not infected with flu is even better. Fun fact: flu is at its most infectious stage early on in the cycle, i.e. before you even know you have it. So much for staying home.

    Also, people in hospitals are likely to have (a) suppressed immune systems and (b) more chance of dying from an infection so the stakes are much higher.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:33AM (#42518015)

    I live in this town and my mother in law works in this Hospital. These people were informed six months ago about the requirement and the results if they refused.

  • 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 [] 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: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, 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.

  • by rwise2112 ( 648849 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:10AM (#42518567)

    Man, where do you guys get these stories? As a Canadian, I and most other non-elite persons, are very happy with the medical service here. I was diagnosed with kidney disease a while back, so I'm not looking from the outside in, I have first hand experience. They found a problem with a routine blood test, and within a month I saw a specialist, had a biopsy and was diagnosed, and continue to be treated.

    You want to see a doctor, there are many options from walk-in clinics, family doctor, or emergency room - neither will have a wait of more than a few hours. The emergency room might take a little longer if your problem is less severe than the guy coming in with his fingers in a bag or something.

    Also, taxes are not that different in Canada than they are in the US []

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:11PM (#42519423)

    They are largley a way to shift personal responsibility to the Big Sky Man.

    Spoken in true ignorance.

    Aside from the plethora of religions with NO deity, Christianity (one of the biggest religions) see the problem as being oneself-- that is, the responsibility is being shifted nowhere but inward.

  • 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.

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