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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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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • These bitches (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:14AM (#42517077)

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

  • Herd Immunity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:17AM (#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.

  • 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 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 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 bmo ( 77928 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:27AM (#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.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 []. 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...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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): []

    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.
  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:46AM (#42517373) Journal

    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! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:47AM (#42517381) Journal

    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.

  • by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (8190nairb)> 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:02AM (#42517575)

    I'm pretty happy to hear they were fired for such dangerous, asinine, stupidity

    So says the guy whos first reaction to someone elses opinion is bile and spit. She should probably be fired (probably more like a small repriemand would be in order for something so small) for it as it is a requirement for her job. However, before you get all hollier than thou think of this. There is a reason they wrote the first amendment in the united states. If you are too dense to figure that out please keep quiet until you figure it out. (here is a hint: so people could express themselves freely about their religion and not have the state tell them what to do and how to live).

    It sounds like her views contradict her job and she is not making very good choices in life in the first place (ones that contradict her own beliefs). This also smacks of a 'witchhunt'. Sometimes people will get fired not because of what they do (or even how good they are at it) but how they interact with others. This sounds like a minor thing to fire someone over. They were 'looking for a reason' to get rid of her and found one. Most people are not fired over their quality of their work but who they pissed off especially in a dramafest like a hospital.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afeeney ( 719690 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:06AM (#42517619)

    Personal choice includes the choice of one's employment and accepting the consequences of one's other choices. If my religion requires me to refuse to serve alcohol, I can't take a job as a bartender. If my personal choice is to have a dog lick my hands clean rather than wash them, I can't take a job as a cook.

    If there is solid, double-blind, peer-reviewed evidence that my refusing to take a flu shot creates a risk to patients, then my personal choice of religion means that I can't take a job as a nurse, where I'm dealing with people with vulnerable immune systems. I could request a switch to an administrative job or one that doesn't involve patient contact, but my employer is not required to give that to me. If I developed a physical condition that precluded getting a flu shot, then it might count as a disability, in which case the hospital might (IANAL) be required to give me an alternative position, but a disability is inherently out of my control.

  • 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.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:09AM (#42517669) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Suck my cock, or I'll fire you. What, you don't like it? Back into the job market with you.

    Am I saying there's a direct parallel here? No. Am I saying that what you said is ludicrous? Yes, yes I am.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cupantae ( 1304123 ) <maroneill AT gmail DOT com> 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

  • by somarilnos ( 2532726 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:13AM (#42517693)

    Smoking and drinking alcohol aren't contagious. But, by that note, if a nurse smoked in a patient's room in the hospital, I absolutely guarantee you he or she would be fired immediately. Same if they were caught coming in to work drunk.

    It's not about what a person is doing to their body, it's about the health of the patients/customers. Infection in hospitals is a serious enough issue without the health care professionals adding to it.

    And, from the article: 'There seems to be a persistent myth that you can get flu from a flu vaccine among nurses,' says Schaffner. Honestly... these are people who are expected to provide professional health care, who don't understand one of the most basic concepts of medicine. Maybe it's for the best, here.

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:14AM (#42517729)

    "What do the facts support ?" is a good question in my opinion; trouble is, we can only depend on studies, and then another question arises : "which study can be trusted ?"
    A 2010 Cochrane studies warned a bit on the usually highlighted studies found in the press, those being funded by pharmaceutical groups :

    (Of course, we live in a perfect world and lobbying to have a product sold would be... bad - just imagine if banks or entertainment industries did the same, what an awful world it would be !)

    Excerpt of the abstract in the link above :

    Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission.
    WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in light of this finding.

  • by ancienthart ( 924862 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:15AM (#42517737)
    Oh god. MOD POINTS. I require mod points now.
    Seriously, is there a reason why we think it's appropriate to fire/force someone to take an injection, when the simpler answer is for employers to stop being arses about people staying home ill?
    Flu immunisation may/may not shorten exposure time (I want to see an experiment, damnit), but staying home reduces that exposure to 0.
  • 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: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, 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, 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:Herd Immunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ancienthart ( 924862 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:36AM (#42518053)
    But has it been proven that herd immunity works for flu shots?
    Influenza mutates fast. As other posters have noted, this year's flu shots are a guess about what last year's strain will evolve into, and to keep costs down, it's a matter of "well it could evolve into this, this or this, but only this one seems to be dangerous".
    I've had flu shots for 8 years as a teacher, and I've gotten plenty of flu. Instead of calling us ignorant bible-thumpers (I'm humanist/agnostic-leaning-towards-athiest actually), how about ponying up the evidence?
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof - which usually means that I'd have to prove flu shots are ineffective. But when billions are spent per year on flu shots, and qualified professionals are fired because they express skepticism, it is suddenly the medical profession making extraordinary claims. "All this expense and disruption is necessary." Show me some evidence.
  • 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, 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, 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, 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: []

    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:1, Insightful)

    by RicoX9 ( 558353 ) <rico&rico,org> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:56AM (#42518349) Homepage

    Religious beliefs are not a valid reason for *anything* other than validating your personal predjudices and making yourself feel better about yourself when you screw up. They are largley a way to shift personal responsibility to the Big Sky Man.

  • Re:Good (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:18AM (#42518679)

    Your exact same argument could be made to say that the nurses are mandated to take methamphetamine at work to be more productive? The must eat certain foods for lunch and dinner (preventing obesity, and thus wasteful health spending)?

    You've basically turned the situation on its head, saying "by default people have no rights unless they can prove they should," rather than "by default people have free will, unless it is proven this infringes on others eggregiously."

    If there was evidence that mandatory immunization helped other people (through direct transmission, herd immunity, or some other means), or failure to be immunized hurt other people, then an argument could be made. If there was some argument about the nurses not having agency for some reason (like little children are considered to lack), an argument could me made.

    However, these are adults, and educated ones at that. It seems very dangerous to allow the removal of their self-determination in this case. If they want to be "dumb," so long as they aren't hurting others, then what right does anybody have to stop them? Society should err on the side of individual freedom.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:37AM (#42518911)

    But then why work as a nurse? 90% of the things she does can be interpreted by not trusting God. Washing your hands - not trusting God to decide if the germs get you or not. Dressing a wound - not trusting God to protect against infection.

  • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:42AM (#42518981)

    Religion can be dangerous. Imagine you show up at the ER with major blood loss and you die because the ER physician on staff that night was a Jehovah's Witness and didn't believe in giving transfusions.

    Now, what if one of the nurses shook hands with the Dali Lama and swore to never wash that hand again, on religious grounds. Sorry, but I would want the hospital to require hand washing and I would sue a hospital that exposed me to danger in the interest of protecting a nurse's religous practices.

    Not sure if they regularly screen for HIV, but that would be a good idea as well, along with other dangerous pathogens.

    Do the hospital janitors have to take the vaccine? If not, I wouldn't say that the nurses should be fired, but demoted to minimum wage and scrubbing toilets might be a suitable alternative. Maybe they can get work as phone nurses - there is work in this field.

    But why religious grounds? Why not claim to have an allergy? I don't take flu shots anymore because the last two times I had the shot my tongue swelled up. The second time I had a long of chest pressure and dizzyness as well. This was within hours of getting the shot.

  • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:42AM (#42518993) Journal

    A nurse that already has the flu, will be a threat to any patient. Regardless how often SHE washes her hans, and regardless how often THEY will wash their hands. The point about vaccination is: to prevent that she gets the flue. Not to prevent that she spreads it.

  • 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.
  • by andrew_mike ( 458436 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:54AM (#42519159) Journal

    While this might be true, you're ignoring a far more practical reason people go to work sick: Because they don't get paid otherwise. Many employees in the US these days don't get paid sick leave, so if they stay home sick, they don't get paid. For people who get paid a wage, this adds up very quickly, especially for anything worse than a cold. I'd lose 10 percent of my paycheck if I stayed home sick for one day.

    The US is one of the few developed nations that doesn't require employers to provide paid sick days. Maybe it's time we started, as a matter of public health.

  • 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:3, Insightful)

    by crakbone ( 860662 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:08PM (#42519371)
    Devil's advocate here. There does seem to be a chance of paralysis with flu shots as well as allergies. Both can cause major problems for the person. I believe a person should be able to decide what they put in the their body and it should not be mandatory. There seems to be a large movement that we should do stuff for the majority and the minorities can suck it. I understand these are health care workers, But they should still have a choice. The hospital is paying for their service not their bodies. If the possibility of contamination is that bad they they should have more protective gear. As the flu vaccine would only work on the strains its designed for anyway.
  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:12PM (#42519435)

    Your argument could be used for any kind of ideology or belief whatsoever.

    Really what youre saying is, bad beliefs firmly held are bad.

  • Re:Good (Score:1, Insightful)

    by 246o1 ( 914193 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:56PM (#42520207)

    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.

    That's an optimistic view - often this translates means they see the problem as being oneself - that is, the responsibility of the person that particular Christian is judging to be inferior.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @03:15PM (#42522421) Homepage

    Ah, but what did he teach? What words did he use and how do you interpret that in the context of a modern society? Even the "reference book" you use might have different translations with some conflicting advice.

    This problem isn't unique to Christianity, of course. I'm Jewish and there are tons of different interpretations about what is allowed and what isn't and how you should live your life. I follow what I agree with and don't follow what I don't agree with. I'm sure that makes me a "Bad Jew" according to some religious folks, but I don't live my life on their moral code. Some other folks will call me names for following "the wrong religion" or for even following a religion at all. I don't care because I don't live my life on those people's moral codes either. I live it on my own.

    Of course, there are limits. My right to swing my fist ends at your nose. I can observe my religion, but don't expect anyone else to act differently to accommodate me so long as they also don't specifically exclude me based on religion without a good reason. (e.g. I don't expect you to stop eating pork, but if my office made a rule requiring people to eat pork to be employed I'd have a problem with that.) While the nurses claim the hospital has made a rule against their religion, the rule was made with patient safety in mind and them not following the rule puts patients at risk. So the nurses have to weigh whether their religious beliefs are stronger than their connection to that employer. If so, quit and find a new job. If they find that all jobs in their chosen profession have this requirement (and I believe many do), then they might need to reexamine their religious beliefs or their career path.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @04:32PM (#42523547) Homepage Journal

    I'll remember that next time I hear a family values GOP candidate tell me my liberal views are destroying America.

    Actually, conservatism is against everything Jesus taught. Conservatives hate the poor, but Christ and his followers all were poor. They especially hate the homeless, Jesus was homeless. Republicans are the party of the rich (and if you believe otherwise they've pulled the wool over your eyes), look at the story of Lazarus and the rich man. "It is as hard fro a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through a needle's eye". Look at what Christ had to say about lawyers.

    Conservatives are against taxes, but Christ said "render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's" (e.g., stop bitching about taxes and pay the damned things).

    Conservatives are against free health care; Jesus provided free health care. They're against free food, Jesus provided free food to the hungry multitude.

    Conservatives say "God hates fags" but the bible says God loves everyone.

    Jesus was a liberal. The men who tortured him to death were strict law and order conservatives, and Judas was a narc.

    And Romney and Gingrich are probably going to hell.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay