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HCWs Reject Flu Vax

Posted on November 5, 2017 at 9:45 AM

The CDC states: "The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year", and it recommends that everyone six months and older should get vaccinated.

Based on these strong federal recommendations, you would think that HCW would be among the most eager to get the flu vaccine. But you would be wrong. According to the HHS, the rate of vaccination against the seasonal flu among HCWs in 2008 was 45%. Twenty-one studies from nine countries of HCWs who refuse flu vaccination confirm that fear of adverse reaction is a primary reason for their decision. To combat this HCW vaccine refusal, the federal NVAC recommended in February 2012 that heath care employers mandate that HCWs take the flu vaccine or potentially lose their jobs.

The stated rationale behind the HCW mandate is to protect the sick, the weak, and the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. But is the rationale justified? An examination of the science behind influenza vaccines casts a long shadow of doubt. The CDC devotes substantial attention on its website to endorse vaccination of HCWs. The CDC claims the scientific evidence supports the recommendation that HCW who get vaccinated help reduce transmission of influenza, staff illness, and absenteeism, and influenza-related illness and death.

The idea to protect the sick from a potentially life threatening illness by using a safe and effective prophylaxis is valid. The problem is that the vaccine is neither proven safe nor effective in carrying out this mission. Considering the cost and effort to vaccinate millions of HCWs in this country, one would assume that extensive research supports such a broad mandate. Yet the federal government has failed to identify unbiased, reliable studies supporting its recommendations, instead relying on studies conducted or funded by the pharmaceutical industry itself. Importantly, according to the NVIC, adult flu vaccine injuries are the leading cause of injury claims in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the federal program to compensate individuals for injuries caused by federally recommended vaccines.

There have been no large-scale randomized placebo controlled trials of flu vaccines. Other CDC references cite articles that merely endorse the influenza vaccine but give no science to support that position. Even more egregious, some of the articles have nothing to do with reduction of infection; they discuss how to increase HCW vaccination uptake. The federal government's cited studies are far from the last word. In fact, to date, there is not even accurate data on influenza infection rates among HCWs.


Toni Bark, MD, MHEM, LEED AP

Categories: Vax Facts