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Advice for a healthcare worker

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

I've been lurking on this forum for about a year now and I really should introduce myself before I ask you all for advice. I am a RN currently working in a step-down NICU for a year and a half. Prior to that I was a labor and delivery/postpartum nurse. I also have a degree in molecular biology. I never questioned vaccines, yet I never did any research into their effectiveness or into the ingredients they were made of. I thought everything the CDC said was gospel. I considered vaccine reactions to be so rare to the point they were basically non-existant. I have vaccinated hundreds of babies for Hep-B in the first hour of life with piss-poor informed consent (is it an appropriate time to get consent for a baby's vaccine while mom is in active labor? No way.) I thought moms who refused Hep-B were crazy.


While pregnant my CNM's office did not have the flu vaccine in stock in Sept., so I went to Walgreens hoping my baby would receive flu protection transplacentally. I now know I was given a dose with thimerosal and I am so angry at how ignorant I was and how the pharmacist didn't give a second thought to vaccinating my 9-month pregnant self. My sweet boy was born and vaccinated to schedule for the first 9 months. All the while my "conspiracy theory" brother-in-law sent me constant emails about the dangers of vaccines. I never read any of them thinking he had no understanding of science and pleaded with my husband to tell him to leave us alone. When my son was 11 months old my BIL sent me an email about aborted fetal materials in vaccines. I thought this was so out there that I decided to read what he sent thinking I would be amused at his stupidity. Well, that opened pandora's box and i've been reading and researching incessantly ever since. Although I wish I never vaccinated my son, I am grateful I opened my eyes before he got the MMR, varicella, and Hep A.


So now to my actual question :) I have paid great attention to every hospital around me requiring their employees to get flu vaccines. Some have a zero-tolerance policy. This past year, my old employer did allow employees to claim religious exemptions after being threatened by an employee (and friend of mine) that she would pursue legal action for religious discrimination. She and others wore a mask for 5 months (so pointless) and wore special ID badges so that others knew they were unvaxed and could presumably confront them if they weren't wearing masks. These were known as "badge buddies" (vomit). One friend of mine with an egg allergy were forced to get her first flu shot and luckily was fine. Interestingly, physicians were exempt from this policy.


Where I work now appears to be one of the last hospitals in the state without mandatory flu shots. However, I think that may change this fall. We got an email asking whether we received a shot this year and if not, what was our reason for declining. They said they need this information to comply with CMS--the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. I am thinking they probably want to know how to best persuade us to get shots this fall. I think some kind of CMS reimbursement is tied to employee vaccine compliance--does anyone know this for sure?


I have a couple advantages over the typical hospital employee. I am part of a union, which I will enlist if threatened with losing my job. I know of several other RNs who are also strongly opposed to flu vaxes who will also fight a mandate.


I don't know if any of you are healthcare employees that have dealt with this personally, but I'm wondering if anyone has any advice for me or resources you would recommend. I'm hoping for the best, but I'm trying to prepare for the worst in case my job pulls this B.S. in the fall. I went into nursing to help people and I never expected to sacrifice my own health and personal liberties in the process (especially for something with no evidence of preventing flu transmission or deaths in my patients!!!).


Thanks for reading this loooong post.

post #2 of 9

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this situation.  It does seem rather insane to have your livelihood threatened, especially over something unnecessary and likely dangerous.


That whole thing with the masks and the badges reminds me of Jews in Nazi Germany having to wear a Star of David so they could be easily identified.  That's just creepy.


If you want to know about the CMS thing, I would just call them directly and ask.  Tell them you are a healthcare worker and were curious.  Sound super friendly, and some very helpful person will probably tell you everything you want to know.  Make sure to compliment them on how knowledgeable and helpful they are.


I would approach the Union with your friends now, rather than wait to see what happens.


Keep us posted and hopefully other people will have some good ideas for you to help you along with this.

post #3 of 9
That is tough. I've wondered what I would do in that situation. Since you are union, I imagine there is more power in groups. It may be a good idea to find those other employees who wish to refuse and begin a petition. Since everyone will feel supported by one another there will be less of a reason to cave and get the vaccine individually because they feel their job is on the line. I'd include vaccine ingredients, potential side effects, the efficacy rate for the last years vaccine and any pertinent studies on the vaccine and make sure to list the pregnancy class of whichever vaccine the hospital uses while collecting signatures. Perhaps write a petition to your union saying your civil liberties are being violated by mandating a flu shot against your ethical/religious/medical beliefs.

It's difficult to work in the health care field right now isnt it? Once you begin to see things differently than you were taught to see them and your new view is supported by medical literature and history it really just makes you question everything doesn't it? So much for "evidence based best practice medicine" huh?

Good luck. I hope you keep us updated on your situation.
post #4 of 9

Hi! I'm a little late on this and I don't have any actual information to answer your question, but I thought I'd pipe in since I'm also an RN (I work in child psych) and have gone through the same process as you about learning more about vaccines and changing my opinions about their safety and efficacy, as a whole (though of course individual ones have different safety and efficacy profiles) as I have to make this decision for my 5 week old daughter now. I guess I'm lucky -- all I had to do to not get a flu shot at my work last winter was sign a form saying I declined it. That was all, no pressure or fuss at all. I'm very grateful for that. I was pregnant at the time too, so I especially didn't want to get it. Good luck finding out the information you need, and sorry you have to deal with this, from one nurse to another :)

post #5 of 9

Thank you for your posting. Although I don't know if I can give you much advice, I can however reassure you that you are not alone in this battle. I am a RN  as well working in an ICU and can empathize with your situation. Thankfully my hospital allows employees to sign a waiver and of course where the mask for the entire flu season, which I have done the last two years in a row now. And it seems I am the only one on my unit that refuses the shot. Now that I am pregnant, I feel I will receive even more flack for not getting the shot....really dreading this coming flu season. Good luck to you!

post #6 of 9

I'm not in any medical field but basically all of my friends are, and while we don't discuss the subject of vaccination much, they tend to know how I feel and do try to throw out comments about how I'm endangering my kid blah blah blah.  Anywho, my MIL works in a hospital on the paper-trail end, so ZERO patient contact, and yet she's required to get the flu shot.  Now she's not the least bit vax savvy so she goes along with it, but I believe they are one of the last ones in the state allowed to decline and wear the mask.  Quite a few hospitals here began firing people last fall for refusing :(  I'd definitely say use the union to back you and if possible look for a religious exemption or philosophical, or sign a waiver....anything to build up a case if they do change their practices.  I'm not the least bit religious, but because my state (CT) doesn't have philosophical exemptions, when DD goes to school you bet your rear I'll become religious enough to sign that little paper saying she's exempt on religious grounds!


Welcome, by the way!

post #7 of 9

I was faced with a similar conundrum....mandatory flu shots. The hospital system (a big one) terminated my contract because I refused to get a flu shot and because I "failed" to provide documentation of a medical condition that would prevent it. A friend offered to write my name on her vaccine slip, several other providers offered to write a "medical reason" form, but I couldn't. It was an integrity thing for me, so I just stood my ground and took the hit. It was becoming time to step away from the field anyway--as I was starting to feel like a drug-slinging thug and less like a healer.


Hope you get another year out of them before they go the way of the others.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Oops i submitted that too soon. The flu shot also won't help my patients at all according to the cochrane review (the gold standard for biomedical meta-analyses) who have shown no decrease in flu transmission or deaths when healthcare workers are vaxed. I protect my patients by adhering to meticulous hand hygeine and staying home when I'm sick.
post #9 of 9

I've removed a post that was inappropriate for this forum. Please read our guidelines before posting as this forum is support-only. 


I also removed posts that quoted the post.


Please continue with the discussion and PM me or a moderator if you have any questions about appropriate posting to this forum. 

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