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.