2009-10-20

I need this job like I need a shot in the arm

An american friend of mine showed me this article and explained how he, too, was being forced to get this season's flu vaccinations under threat of losing his job.

Isn't this oddly similar to the smoking ban issue, in the sense that one of the strongest arguments for banning smoking in restaurants and bars is to to allow employees the freedom from secondhand smoke? Yes, I realize secondhand smoke and vaccines aren't the same, but some people have legitimate concerns about vaccines, too, such as the woman in the article who is concerned about the mercury used in the one vaccine's preparation, and there are others who may be allergic to various elements.

At first look, it seems like requiring medical staff to inject potentially harmful (even if only slightly) substances into their bodies is a blatant violation of rights. On the other hand, we need to do everything possible to protect patients. Perhaps a series of alternative precautions, such as masks, gloves, and thorough cleansing, can reduce the risk of passing along an infection as much as a vaccine.

But, if the data show that there is no way to reduce the risk of flu outbreaks in hospitals as much as having all staff vaccinated, then steps need to be taken to ensure that the appropriate staff members are vaccinated. Particularly since a person can be contagious before they realize they are infected, hospitals are especially sensitive to outbreaks.

Maybe it's not financially feasible, but what about positive reinforcement instead of negative? Small bonuses or rewards might do the trick better than the threat of getting fired. And, yes, at-risk employees should not be in contact with patients who are susceptible.

Does anyone know more about this, or have a better solution?

2 comments:

Ben said...

Here is an interesting article about why it's important that kids get their vacinations. http://www.slate.com/id/2232977/

fbg said...

That's definitely a great example of how not getting immunized potentially harmful to others. In that way, the issue is very related to smoking.

It makes a good case for hospitals to require shots, particularly because immunodepressed people tend to loiter there.