** This is just my personal understanding and take on the issue. Please discuss this issue with your family physician or LLMD if you have any questions or concerns!
Many hospital systems around the country are instituting mandatory flu vaccination policies for their employees. This is in an effort to protect patients as much as possible. Someone may have the flu, be contagious, and not be displaying any flu symptoms yet. Compliance with flu vaccinations by hospital staff has remained at lower than optimal levels. Mandatory policies dramatically increase staff participation and compliance.
So what’s my problem?
As a general rule, I dislike “mandatory” anything. I especially dislike my employer telling me that it is mandatory that I have to inject something into my body or I lose my job.
They do accept medical exceptions, signed by a doctor, and religious exceptions, signed by a church leader. When you are exempt from the vaccination, you have to wear a mask all day, for approximately 6 months. People who have received the vaccine get special stickers to put on their name badges. With a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, undercurrent working against those who do not receive the vaccine, the stickers almost serve as a reverse scarlet letter. I will not repeat some of the things that I have heard, but it is clear that some consider the non-vaccine group as generally selfish, self-centered, and non-team players.
I did not receive the flu vaccine. I discussed it with my doctor. While he made it clear that he was not telling me that I cannot get it, he did say that he would support me not getting one and wrote my excuse.
Why I decided not to get the vaccine:
I was still being tested for Lyme Disease, testing that included tracking my immune system.
I was just starting treatment for Lyme.
I have never had a flu vaccine and was not 100% certain how I would react.
You CANNOT get the flu from the vaccine, but for 1-2 weeks after, your immune system is building resistance for the flu and you can become slightly more susceptible to cold and flu germs/viruses floating around you everyday. Some say that it can trigger an increase in Lyme symptoms for those whose immune system is already on the edge.
Since I do not actually work in the hospital or an inpatient facility, my patients find it a little odd but understand that I do not have the plague once the policy is explained. A couple of them find it creepy that they cannot see my face, but are becoming accustomed to it. I, occasionally, feel like I cannot catch my breath when trying to talk and walk around. Any tips? It is nice not to have to worry if I have something stuck in my teeth or if I have a huge pimple on my nose. I may wear masks year around!