I had a question about mandatory flu vaccines in a work environment. The place I work at just announced that they would be requiring everyone to get a flu shot this flu season. The only exemptions allowed are for medical reasons. Can they actually do that? And is there anything I can do about it? I live in WI if that makes any difference. What about religious exemptions? Can you claim religious exemptions for a specific vaccine or if you have received other vaccinations? I have received most of the childhood vaccines, but only one since I turned 18 (and I would make a different decision about that now). I used to be a big proponent of vaccines, but I'm finding in this case the more you know, the worse it gets.
I was hoping you could help me out or direct me to some resources. I tried searching the internet and this forum, but I didn't really find anything specific to my situation.
Thanks in advance,
I assume from your username that you are a nurse. Are you a member of a union? They should be able to advice you on your rights and obligations.
In Australia vaccination for RNs is not compulsory *but* if you don't have them then the employer is within their rights to require you to work in a "low risk" area. Depending on which vaccination it is a "low risk" area may be a non-clinical area.
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
Here are Wisconsin's regulations on medical privacy:
If I were in you shoes, in addition to finding out if any exemptions applied to adults in the workplace, I would approach it from a privacy angle. I do not think employees have to disclose medical issues to their employers - which should include vaccine status.
Thanks for the responses. I do work in a hospital and I think that may affect the privacy angle because they do have a responsibility to their patients to ensure their safety and the safety of their employees i.e. if an unvaccinated person is exposed to chickenpox that person would need to stay home from work until they were sure they hadn't gotten it and could pass it on to vulnerable patients. Vaccine and tb status as verified by bloodwork and medical clearance are required for hire. I'm going to try the religious exemption aspect, if that doesn't work I'll try to figure something else out. I really don't want to quit because I just got a bunch of tuition money from them and I'd have to pay it back if I quit. :( And the experience is really good preparation for being a nurse.
It's required at my hospital. If you refuse to get it you have to wear a mask from November to March which is unpleasant but better than getting the shot IMO. I would ask if this is an option at your workplace. You might get a better answer from your Employee Health or Infection Control nurse rather than Human Resources. I have been a nurse since 1988 and if I had it to do over again I would choose a different profession because every year it becomes a little more crappy. I would not put it past my employer to disallow the mask option at some point in the future. If you are going to be a nurse get used to forced vaccination.
Lisa DH Pat DS Liam DS James
Missing DD Lily 6/17/10- 12/13/12
Those with medical exemptions are allowed to wear a mask, but if you don't have a medical exemption you are supposed to get the shot. I'm thinking about requesting Nov. - May off for school reasons which would negate the whole situation. I'm pretty sure they are not going to make an exemption for me. This place isn't exactly the most accomodating. I know I'll probably deal with it at other workplaces, but once I'm finished with school I will have more options of where to work. My aunt is also a nurse and the hospital where she was working tried this with the swine flu vaccination. They ended up reversing it because the doctors threw a fit about it. So there are places that allow choice in the matter. The thing is I'm not planning on working in the hospital setting for more than a couple of years and maybe less depending on what I decide to do. I'll probably end up in home health care or homebirth midwifery, neither of which would require vaccinations.
I've heard that some hospitals are going to stop allowing the masks. That would be a stupid, stupid, stupid reason to loose so many competent staff members.
One theory I've heard in objection to the masks is that when patients see the mask and know that a nurse didn't get vaccinated, they'll start questioning the vaccine for themselves if their own nurse won't even take it. And we wouldn't want them questioning anything, would we?
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.” - Marcia Angell, M.D., former NEJM Editor Private Parts are Private Property!
I wouldn't be surprised if they stopped allowing masks but it wouldn't make them lose very many staff. They started this crap a few years ago. They've always "encouraged" us to take the flu shot- at first they started out with serving us treats and having a lotto for prizes for those who got the shot. Only 50-60% took it. The next year they sent Emails about how there was supposed to be a really bad flu pandemic (the hospital bought tons of supplies for it) and if we refused the flu shot we had to sign a paper saying we were aware that we were exposing our patients to the flu and might kill them. We also had to check the boxes why we refused. They did that for a year or two and then it was sign the bad-non-vaxed staff paper and wear a mask. I asked my nursing supervisor (who is cool) how many staff were wearing the mask besides me and she said "a couple of people." So it went from half the folks getting the shot to 99% getting it. I doubt they would cry any tears over losing a few of us hold outs.
We also had to wear a button with our mask, stating " I wear because I care".
During flu season all of our patients are asked if they want the flu shot on admission and pneumonia vax if they meet the requirements.
If all healthcare workers are vaxed, that tends to create a class of persons who work together and all think alike. Since the medical profession makes itself in charge of our health needs that tends to make them something of a borg, that is a group of people who all think alike and act alike.
Many people in the healthcare profession aren't thrilled to be forced to take the flu shot. The CDC and Joint Commission are hot for it though and the CEOs are going to do whatever they are told so they don't lose money.
Lisa DH Pat DS Liam DS James
Missing DD Lily 6/17/10- 12/13/12
I also work in a hospital which now requires the flu vaccine annually. I got a letter of medical exemption from my health care provider and so I wear a mask during flu season. Which is a pain but to me is better than taking the vaccine.
This is what's going on in MI. Maybe you can get some info from it. I would hate to be forced to be vaccinated but sadly it's becoming common practice in many work places.
Becky, momma to Rafe 8/2/2011, wife to Sky & mom to our corgis.
My hospital is also requiring the vax this year...no mask option unless you have a medical waiver. Even if you have the waiver they are going to comb through your medical history and try to tear that apart. This year I will be 19 weeks pregnant when the deadline arrives. I have no idea what to do. I can go and get the 'mercury free' shot on my own and turn in the receipt as proof I got the shot...but I don't even want to do that. I cannot find another job, I cannot quit, I cannot be fired.... My husband is being laid off in a month.
I love my job and I love the place I work. The politics are not so great though.
Rikki ~~ Married Aug 04 ~~ DD Feb 06 ~~ DS Oct 07 ~~ DD April 12
I work in a hospital in Pennsylvania. The flu vax has been mandatory here for the last three years. They allow medical exemptions and religious exemptions. However, the hospital policy for determining an "acceptable" religious exemption is far stricter than the state law. The state religious exemption is very loosely worded. However, the hospital requires that you speak to a judge, discuss religious references and what they mean to you. I don't know how this policy would hold up in a court of law.
(NaturalNews) Following swine flu emergency declarations in 11 states, Washington D.C., American Samoa and the entire U.S. in 2009, hospitals around the country began implementing new flu vaccine mandates for their employees. Healthcare workers who worked for decades without getting vaccinated were suddenly faced with choosing between getting vaccinated and getting fired. Some had observed over the years that it was the vaccinated workers who most often took sick leave each winter to recover from flu-like illnesses. Nevertheless, since the so-called pandemic, hospitals have increasingly been requiring vaccination for their employees. And the pro-vaccine rush hasn't stopped there. In more recent months, entirely new categories of employees have been facing vaccine mandates, including airline employees, pharmacists, and hospital sales reps. Ultimately, all workers and adults will be in the sites of the rapidly advancing pharmaceutical vaccine agenda.
Well, I thought I'd update everyone. I do believe I could have flown under the radar and avoided the flu vaccine for work on the basis that I won't be working this flu season. However, I found out yesterday that the flu vaccine is required at the place where we will be doing our clinical rotation (I'm in nursing school) next semester, so I guess I will have to get the vaccine. I don't really have any options on this one, because I don't think clinical sites are required to provide religious exemptions to students. Plus if my teacher found out, I'm not in favor of many of the vaccinations I'm pretty sure I'd hear about it at every opportunity. I won't lie to get a health exemption, so I guess I'm pretty much stuck. Does anyone know of any resources about relative risks of the different kinds of flu vaccines? The main thing I'm worried about is ending up sick all winter as I've heard a lot of people say that happened to them after they got their first flu shot.
Thanks to everyone who posted
I don't understand this. I would have no problem lying in self defense (as long as the lie didn't hurt others). The thing with the flu vaccine is, you don't know if it is going to affect you. You might be just fine. So it doesn't feel like the immediate danger of someone threatening you with a knife, for example. But if one of the more serious adverse events happens, that is potentially a lot more dangerous than a knife attack. I would have no problem lying in order to escape a knife attack. I would have no problem lying to escape forced vaccination.
The question is, would the lie be successful in getting you out of the requirement. But that is a separate issue.
I understand where you are coming from but for me there is a difference between lying and asking someone else to lie for you. But I get what you mean about it seeming not as dangerous. Also quite a few places (including the hospital I work at) require allergy testing if you claim to be allergic. And if you're caught it can mean your job and in my case probably getting kicked out of school. I'm not too worried about serious side effects because I have had quite a few vaccinations when I was younger and never had a negative reaction. I know there can always be a first, but I think I'm going to try to get the FluMist because it seems like the list of possible side effects is not quite as bad. Dropping out of school is not an option and I really don't want to do anything that would jeopardize my career. I should only have to get it once before I graduate and then I can pick a place to work that doesn't require it. My biggest concern is that it will mess up my immune system and I will be sick all winter long. If that does happen, I figure I could probably get my doctor to write a note on those grounds. Because I think I've been sick once or twice in the last 5 years or so.
I understand where you are coming from but for me there is a difference between lying and asking someone else to lie for you.
Also quite a few places (including the hospital I work at) require allergy testing if you claim to be allergic. And if you're caught it can mean your job and in my case probably getting kicked out of school.
I didn't mean asking someone to lie for me. I would if I thought it would work, but I doubt a doctor would lie for me. I would have to lie to the doctor. I would go to a new doctor if necessary, who didn't know me or my health history. Or, I would try to get proof of having the shot without actually getting the shot. For example, getting the receipt at the pharmacy before actually getting injected, then running out the door in response to an emergency cell phone call.
If someone says they are allergic to neomycin, for example, would the hospital do an allergy test for that? I can't believe the lengths hospitals are going to these days to make sure everybody gets the flu shot.
Other than eggs, I don't think there is one ingredient that is in all flu vaccines. But I bet I could find two ingredients that would cover all the vaccines, that I could say I was allergic to.
Here are the package inserts. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm094045.htm The first page of each package insert lists the contraindications. Section 11 lists all the ingredients.
(I understand you've decided to get the vaccine. I'm not trying to convince you by saying what I would do).
Yeah, when they sent out the notice that all employees and volunteers would have to get a flu vaccine. There was a large hint that anyone claiming an allergy to the vaccine would be required to be tested to confirm it. It is so stupid because in my experience the ones that don't take it tend to be educated about health and know how to strengthen their immune system. As a result, they are the ones who never call in sick and those that got the flu shot are calling in sick all the time. I've worked there for almost two years and never ever called in sick. I never even got sick when there was stuff going around. I knew to avoid sugar, take vitamin C and D, oregano oil, garlic, etc. and take care of my body so I didn't get sick.
So it sounds like they haven't actually done that. I wonder if they are bluffing.
Wow. It is amazing what they admit in small print on the packaging. Between the pertusiss brochure about not reducing transmission of the disease and this package insert, I'm becoming rather interested in exactly what other information the vaccine manufacturers know and just aren't required legally to put on the package. Does anyone know if that is on all the other brands of flu vaccine packaging or how I could find it?