Mandatory Flu Vaccination

** 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.

The results:

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!

I tried these. Liked them! My ears did not hurt from the loops like with regular masks. Unfortunately, they are not allowed. Standard, medical issue only!

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18 thoughts on “Mandatory Flu Vaccination

  1. I remember when the H1N1 virus was in full swing, and we had to wear masks while working in clinic. It quickly got old, and I worried I was scaring the little kids. But better safe than sorry, I suppose, especially with that nasty strain.

    I have no problem with the mandatory vaccine policies, especially because in the past, healthcare providers have had dismal percentages of flu vaccination. But those who need exemptions should be able to do so without feeling like they’ve committed a crime. I think the sticker thing is a bit much.

    • I agree. I understand the benefits of the policy, especially in the hospital. If a fragile patient gets the flu, it could be devastating. I kind of even get the stickers. It makes the policy much easier to enforce but it does seem a bit much.
      The more people I see walking around obviously not feeling well, the more I like the idea of wearing a mask. Shot or no shot.

  2. Hi Katie πŸ˜€ How difficult it must be for you to stand up to the Big Brother tactics of where you work. I expect the main policy behind the enforcement is to keep staff working during the flu season. Oh well, I’m off for a shot against an asteroid falling on my head πŸ˜‰ Ralph xox πŸ˜€

  3. I’ve been receiving the flu vaccine since around 1992 when I entered the medical field and have not had the flu since. Prior to that it seemed like I got the flu every year. Even though I am out of the medical field now, I will probably continue receiving the flu vaccine. I do understand your predicament and why you do not want it.

  4. I really don’t like the ‘mandatory’ rule either…when as you say it means putting something into your body…. I did get the flu shot just because of my age and I my immune system with MS is already compromised… My son does not get it for the exact reason you stated … he dislikes taking a lot of antibiotics etc. preferring in most cases to see if his body will fight off whatever he is coming down with… without the meds… Diane

    • It sounds like both of you have looked into it, weighed the pros and cons, and came to decisions that suited each of you and your current situations. Very wise! 8)

  5. Thanks for sharing your thought on this subject. I completely agree with you. I’m glad to have found your blog through our dear friend Ralph from Blue Fish! He’s a sweetie :). I was feeling really annoyed with my moms primary care physician the other day who was relentless on pushing the influenza vaccine on her even though she specifically told her numerous times that she has gotten sick every time in the past when she’s had one! She also became angry with me for mentioning our concern with the 25 mcg/dose of mercury and the inactivated formaldehyde in it. Here’s an article I shared on my blog a few days ago you may want to check out: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/what-science-says-about-getting-flu-shot

    • Gotta love Ralph. πŸ™‚
      Interesting article, thanks for sharing.
      The flu vaccine may well be a good option for some, however it is concerning when a doctor seemingly ignores any patient’s concerns and previous reactions.
      If she hasn’t gotten one yet but wants to, they do have some out this year without mercury or other concerning preservatives. I do not know how easy they are to find, but I have heard they are out there.

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