Mandating vaccines for health care workers appears to be a convenient way to limit spread of infection. However, these techniques, especially in flu vaccination, can lead to a false sense of security. They can overshadow and replace other very effective practices to control spread of infection. Mandated vaccines have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects for individuals, and alienate employees from their employment.
This presentation will challenge the medical community to apply the principles of personalized medicine to help avoid and even eliminate “collateral damage” in vaccination campaigns.
A personal experience with neuralgic amyotrophy, an adverse reaction to the H1N1 and the Seasonal Flu vaccines in December of 2009, catapulted me into the midst of this issue. As a hospital employee I reluctantly agreed to the vaccines in the face of employer threatened sanctions for non-compliance.
Since then I have learned that vaccine injury reporting systems are helpful to researchers in gathering data on adverse events, but they do nothing to guide the patient to appropriate diagnosis or treatments. Patient compensation programs limit provider and supplier liability but are difficult for patients to navigate. Adverse events are under-recognized.
The use of force and coercion in public health methods must be weighed very carefully. The ethics, safety and effectiveness of coercing employees to accept invasive flu vaccines are not supported by a careful assessment.
Informed consent is a foundation of medical ethics. Mandated procedures, with sanctions for those who don’t comply, introduce undue influence in the realm of informed consent. Health workers themselves are responsible for implementing and championing informed consent for their patients’ treatments and procedures. They deserve support for their right to accept or refuse treatments without fear of sanctions.
There is much we don’t know. My primary care physician could not have predicted that I would have had this adverse event. And, no primary care physician or other front line
provider could have told me at the time I received the two vaccines whether they would produce immunity for me, or exactly how my immune system would respond.
Advances in genetics and personalized medicine need to be developed to minimize or eliminate adverse events and unnecessary exposure to vaccines. Universal surveillance programs need to be in place to monitor patients for adverse events in mass vaccination programs. When adverse events are confirmed, or even suspected, prompt diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation must be offered through appropriate compensation programs.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Evanston, IL, USA