Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NYS Health Care Workers Question Swine Flu Vaccine Rule

The New York State Department of Health has made it official that all health care workers in the state must take the swine flu shot to continue working. That has got some of these health care workers up in arms over their right to refuse the vaccine.
Healthcare workers in New York are angry and planning to protest a state regulation that requires them to get the swine flu vaccine. They are being given an ultimatum: get vaccinated or get fired, according to a NewsDay.com article on www.drudgereport.com. The healthcare workers who are taking exception to the state’s demand insist that such a requirement violates their personal right and freedom to make that decision, and also puts them at risk of serious health issues and even death.

The vaccine has been fast tracked through the FDA and has not been thoroughly tested. In a previous article, quite a bit of detail was offered about what fast tracking means. In a nutshell, extensive testing is not required. So little is known about the short-term side effects, and no one knows what the long-term effects are going to be. This vaccine is very similar to one used in, 1976 which not only caused some people to get a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), but the vaccine from 1976 killed more people than the actual swine flu itself.

As for those who aren’t healthcare workers, in spite of the fact that children and pregnant women will be given first priority in receiving the dangerous potion, no studies have been done that indicate what effect the vaccine will have on an unborn child.
These health care workers point to the 1976 vaccine problems, ignoring that the influenza vaccinations made since then have significantly changed, and that the H1N1 vaccination is different from the standard flu vaccines only in that it focuses only on the H1N1 vaccine instead of a cocktail of several different strains.

In fact, it seems that some of this is being driven by the anti-vaccination crowds, and not by hard science on the matter.

These health care workers are on the front lines of any potential outbreak, and if they are sickened and incapacitated, it will put many others in serious harm. Moreover, the Examiner article claims that this is a dangerous potion, when past influenza vaccinations have gotten FDA approval and are produced using the same exact methodologies and processes. The slant on the article is clear; it ignores the actual science.

These workers are already required to maintain proper immunizations against certain other illnesses, but apparently the flu vaccine has pushed this to the forefront.

Already, the flu season is off to a roaring start, with widespread activity in 26 states. That MSNBC chart provides H1N1 deaths, but doesn't tell the whole story - the total killed by influenza, showing that H1N1 continues to play a small but significant role in the overall figure. The CDC map is slightly easier to read, but omits mortality data, particularly from H1N1.

As always, the key is prevention, and taking the flu shot is the first step. Maintaining proper hygiene and constant washing of hands is another. Getting the flu shots is important if you're a care giver or have elderly parents or young children who may be more susceptible to the illnesses due to weakened or still maturing immune systems.

No comments: