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Flu Vaccine Mandates for Hospital Workers Based on Flawed Research

hospital workers in hallway

Some health care workers have even been terminated for refusal to vaccinate against the flu.

A new study published in PLOS One questions the scientific validity of annual influenza vaccine mandates for all hospital workers. The flu vaccination policy, which is often a condition of employment, has been based on the assumption that it reduces influenza-associated morbidity and mortality among hospital patients.

Depending on the region and jurisdiction, many hospitals have policies that require health care workers to get the influenza vaccine or, if they choose not to vaccinate and the hospital’s flu vaccination policy is more flexible, they are required to wear surgical masks on site during the “flu season.” Some health care workers have been terminated for refusal to get annual flu shots.1 2

To justify their mandatory influenza vaccination policies for health care workers, employers usually point to four cluster randomized control trials (cRCT) conducted in long-term care facilities. The PLOS study reveals that the methodology used in all four cRCTs has been found to be flawed. Furthermore, none of the studies were conducted in hospital settings.3

One of the cRCT’s from Great Britain calculates that one death from influenza can be avoided for every eight health care workers vaccinated. If this calculation were indeed true, then vaccinating all 1.7 million long-term care workers in the United States should prevent 212,500 patient deaths from influenza. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) estimates only between 3,000 to 49,000 deaths from the flu per year, depending upon the influenza strain circulating in a given flu season, and that estimate includes people of all ages.3 

If this were to be extrapolated to the 5.5 million hospital workers in the U.S., it would mean that an additional 687,500 patient deaths from influenza could be prevented. This figure is more than the number of Americans that died in the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic.3

In an article in STAT News, Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy stated, “The study today does not refute that vaccination could have some impact on reducing transmission from infected health care workers to patients. But it clearly shows there’s no well-conducted study that demonstrates that at this time. Our public policy should be guided as such.”1

Dr. Melanie Swift, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University and director of its occupational health clinic added, All this is trying to mandate that health care workers take the flu vaccine is well-intentioned, but is taking away resources and the focus on what our main priority needs to be, which is getting a better influenza vaccine.”1


References:

1 Branswell H. Contentious flu vaccine policies at hospitals are based on flawed research, study says. StatNews.com Jan. 27, 2017.
2 Fisher BL. Women, Vaccines & Bodily Integrity. NVIC Newsletter Jan 24, 2013.
3 De Serres G, Skowronski DM, Ward BJ, Gardam M, Lemieux C, Yassi A, Patrick D, Krajden M, Loeb M, Collignon P, Carrat F. Influenza Vaccination of Healthcare Workers: Critical Analysis of the Evidence for Patient Benefit Underpinning Policies of EnforcementPLOS One 2017 12:(1).

5 Responses to Flu Vaccine Mandates for Hospital Workers Based on Flawed Research

  1. RICK Reply

    February 17, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    THE AGENCIES HAVE WAY TO MUCH POWER FOR THEY NO NOT WHAT THEY ARE DOING ON THE BIG PICTURE OF NATURE
    WE HOPE THE TRIMP CABINET WILL STOP THE DEMO GODS

  2. Mark Talbott Reply

    February 9, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I am a Registered Nurse and my rights were taken away in the hospital setting. Get the flu shot or be terminated. I have seven healthy adult children who were never vaccinated except for the same forced vaccines. I have seen many adverse reactions that go unreported; whole arm bruising in same arm as the shot, Guillian Barre, where Nursing Assistant could not walk for six months after flu shot. They determined there was no link to the vaccine. It is sick and twisted what we in America are being subjected to and something needs to be done.
    My sisters baby died from a DPT shot.(1980’s) The MD’s tried to cover it up by calling it “Crib Death,” whatever that is. 60 Minutes exposed the cover up and law suits were in the millions. Not possible anymore, as you know. Drug companies are no longer held accountable.

  3. Jean James Reply

    February 9, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I am a health care worker who chooses not to be vaccinated. I wear a mask throughout the flu season. So far this year (similar to last year), multiple people I work with, who received the influenza vaccine have been sick with influenza (some with positive tests/some assumed). Many of those coworkers had come to work symptomatic, and with fever! I have been working as a nurse for 29 years, and have never received the influenza vaccine. I have worked in major metropolitan hospitals in critical care units, and have not seen rampant influenza in either patients or nurses, in fact I can remember one case of a patient having Influenza, we put him on isolation, and his daughter refused to wear the isolation gear required!
    I have had one positive case of Influenza, (that I can honestly remember), since I was a child, and that was during the H1N1 2009 Swine-flu ‘pandemic,’ which I caught when my young son sneezed directly in my mouth lol. When I was tested that year I tested positive for Influenza A, but the lab refused to sub-type (too expensive), and assumed it was H1N1. That was the first year I saw an uptake in admissions to our ICU for Influenza, and that was in patients with comorbidities, however, my symptoms (and my sons) were mild. I have also had visitors come into the hospital with known diagnosis of Influenza to visit their loved ones.
    To think those of us who don’t vaccinate for influenza are the problem is such a distortion of the evidence.

  4. sharon Reply

    February 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    I was rejected as employee at Integris Baptist in OKC because I refused to get the flu shot.

  5. Doreen Tatum Reply

    February 9, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    My daughter is a Medical Assistant Student at Stark State in Canton,Ohio. She is hoping to work the 2nd part of the semester where the hospitals are insisting she have shots. She has already had one due to pressure and but our family including her does not want the shots. Can anyone offer us help?

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