A Duluth-based health system - a company founded in 2003 that owns and operates 15 hospitals and 75 medical clinics located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho - has fired about 50 employees who refused to get an annual flu shot (KWG, 2017). A few days later it was reported that a total of Essentia Health 69 employees had been let go (Dyer, 2017).
Essentia Health announced last month that employees would be required to get vaccinated for influenza to help keep patients from getting infected, or else receive a religious or medical exemption.
Minnesota employees were particularly disturbed by the requirement, as state law does not mandate influenza vaccinations for health care workers.
Vaccine Mandate Based on Flawed and Weak Evidence
Researchers have sought out for the scientific evidence used to push mandatory flu vaccinations of all hospital personnel. There are four cluster randomized controlled trials, conducted exclusively in long-term care facilities and nursing homes that have specifically assessed indirect patient benefits from health care worker influenza vaccination which have been most often cited in the support of mandatory health care worker policies.
Two pivotal systematic reviews and meta-analyses have been published summarizing and pooling these four cRCT findings, but reached different conclusions about the strength of that evidence.
Given this, researchers analyzed the four randomized controlled trials underpinning policies of enforced health-care worker influenza vaccination and discovered implausibly large reductions in patient risk to health-care worker vaccination, casting serious doubts on their validity.
In other words, the impression that unvaccinated heath-care workers place their patients at great influenza peril is greatly exaggerated. Instead, the risk attributable to health-care workers remains unknown and the number needed to vaccinate to achieve patient benefit still requires better understanding (De Serres et al., 2017).
De Serres, G., Skowronski, D., Ward, B., Gardam, M., Lemieux, C., Yassi, A., Patrick, D., Krajden, M., Loeb, M., Collignon, P. and Carrat, F. (2017). Influenza Vaccination of Healthcare Workers: Critical Analysis of the Evidence for Patient Benefit Underpinning Policies of Enforcement. PLOS ONE, 12(1), p.e0163586. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0163586
Dyer, O. (2017). US healthcare company fires 69 employees for refusing flu vaccination. BMJ, p.j5473. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5473
KGW. (2017). Company fires about 50 workers for refusing to get flu shot. [online] Available at: http://www.kgw.com/news/company-fires-about-50-workers-for-refusing-to-get-flu-shot/493776350 [Accessed 16 Dec. 2017].
Mercola, J. (2017). Vaccine Deficient Employees Fired to Gain Health Care Funding. [online] Mercola.com. Available at: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/12/05/mandatory-influenza-vaccinations.aspx [Accessed 16 Dec. 2017].
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