RNs fired for refusing flu vaccine. Claims christian faith exemption.

Influenza kills somewhere between 3,000 to 40,000 Americans annually.   According to the Centers for Disease Control " from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people."  with an average of about 25,000 deaths per year.

So far this year, there have been 18 pediatric deaths.  It's very early in the season.  Last year there were 34.  The year before that, 122, and the year before that, 282.  That might appear to be a downward trend, but it really reflects that influenza strains are highly variable from year to year, and there is an ebb and flow of deaths.

282 child deaths is how many Newtown massacres?

figure from above link

The fact is, every person who has influenza is a vector for others to catch it.  The vaccine is not 100% effective, but it's the best thing we have to reduce epidemic impact and save lives.  It's not about someone with a few aches and pains, fever and a chance to watch old movies and wear pajamas.  It's about reducing the # of tragedies.  All of those hundreds of children who died in the past 4 years had parents who grieved just as much as Newtown parents grieved.

It's hard to predict, butthis season looks like it could be a doozy.  I hope not.  Of course there are flawed predictions.  It's an inexact science.

So that's the context for why this nurse pisses me off.  She wants to continue working in a hospital, where she could contract influenza, and potentially infect many others before developing symptoms herself.  It's not that easy to differentiate flu from bronchitis from cold, in the early stages.  

Plus, it's being taken as a case for religious freedom:  "

'I feel like in my personal faith walk, I have felt instructed not to get a flu vaccination, but it’s also the whole matter of the right to choose what I put in my body..."

Sue Schrock, a hospice nurse, said she has not had a flu vaccine for 30 years as a result of a choice she made because of her Christian faith."

and there's this:

Alan Phillips, who represented several nurses at the hospital, says his clients had the right to refuse their flu shots under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination of employees. Religion is legally broad under the First Amendment, so it could include any strongly held belief, he said, adding that the belief flu shots are bad should suffice.

I don't know how the "rights" aspect will turn out.  If a hospital worker claimed they couldn't wear mask or gloves in surgery because of their religion, how would that go over?  But they won't, so that's a moot point.

All I know is it pisses me off and sets a bad example.

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Rights in a court case are balanced against each other.

The nurses in question might have the religious right to refuse a vaccine, but that has to be balanced against the public's right not to be infected.

I suspect should this actually go to court, they will lose.

This will go the same way as people whose religion bars paying social security taxes.  The government said they were A-OK with that.  The people just couldn't work.  HA!

They also have a right to find another job.

I agree - she is in the wrong profession.

Absolutely.  And not just a different job in the hospital, in administration as others suggest.  That displaces someone who might be better qualified, better suited, trained, etc, in favor of someone who gives her religion, if that is really the case, priority over public health and health of the patient.  

I wonder if her religion is really the issue - I don't think Jesus had much to say about influenza vaccines, and Leviticus is mute on the topic as well.

No matter your stance on vaccination, a vaccination is an invasive medical procedure, doesn't a U.S. citizen have the right to refuse them?

*spelling edit*

Not if they work in the public health sector

Now that I think about it.  Anyone who actually wants to be around a lot people, like school kids, should have to vaccinated.  Kids shouldn't be dying just because somebody doesn't want to be vaccinated.  Which is why kids entering school have mandatory vaccinations.

Also ditto from me.   It's reasonable to expect that people, who work among those especially vulnerable to influenza, have taken precautions in the interest of safety for children and hospital patients.  

I guess the expression "invasive procedure" needs some definition.  If a simple shot - or in some cases, a nose spray - is invasive, then how do we define colonoscopy?  Open heart surgery?  I don't think a shot is invasive.

Around here schools require that employees either be vaccination, or that they have blood tests to verify immunity.

What would happen if some kids contracted influenza and one or more died (as happens) and it was shown that their un-immunized teacher had influenza and exposed the kids?  In addition to parental grief, would there be a lawsuit? Similar for patients in hospital - if RN caring for patients had influenza, and was not immunized, and patients died as a result - same thing?

I don't know the answers to those.  But as far as ethics goes, I think every person in healthcare or child care should be vaccinated.

I wasn't soliciting opinions as to whether the other posters believed that forced vaccinations should or should not be legal in the U.S., I was asking if anyone knew whether a U.S. citizen has the right to refuse a vaccination.

Of course, I always refuse the flu vaccine.

This is a very touchy subject.  I am still torn on this issue.  It is easy to say that a medical worker doesn't have the right to refuse.  But, I am just looking at taking that right away from someone else.  As a patient I would not want that worker treating me if I didn't have the vaccination.  It wouldn't make any difference to me if I was already vaccinated.  As an employer I wouldn't want to cover the expected sick days of the unvaccinated employee (especially one that has a higher exposure to pathogens).  

The religious excuse turns me off.  But what about personal freedom.  


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