Flu vaccines required for patient safety
Posted on Jan 10, 2013 in Opinion
Eight employees in an Indiana hospital were fired last month for refusing the flu vaccine.
In September, Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital announced to its employees that flu shots were now mandatory for all hospital employees. Yet, 1,300 employees, mostly nurses, refused to be vaccinated, but only eight of them were fired. Bitter debate in the media has begun since the story was reported on the news.
Most people consider a flu vaccine as a personal choice. Not receiving a vaccine means taking the risk of getting the flu, which can be deadly, but this is a chance that one takes by not being vaccinated. Another viewpoint is that getting the flu vaccine should be mandatory because it benefits the welfare of society.
Ideally, if everyone received the flu vaccine, the virus would never impact so many people. This perspective is essentially saying that receiving the flu shot is a public responsibility.
As of September, Indiana had one of the higher flu rates in the country, with over 15,000 people infected since then. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, the American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association advised hospitals to be vigilant about the flu and vaccinate as many people as possible.
The nurses who lost their jobs are outraged because they believe that they have the right to control what happens to their body. The hospital, on the other hand, claims that the nurses, who are not being vaccinated, pose a great threat to its patients, and hence are harming society.
While both sides pose legitimate arguments, the hospital’s point trumps that of the nurses. Many patients in a hospital have lowered immunity to disease, and if their nurses get the flu, there is an extremely high chance that they will be infected as well. If the hospital’s own employees pose a threat to its patients, they are not doing their job. The duty of those in the medical field is to do everything possible to heal and cure patients.
While the nurses do have a right to their body, if this right is harming those around them, then the patients’ right to not be harmed by their nurses trumps it. Also, seeing as the nurses were warned beforehand that flu shots were no longer optional, they should not have been angry with hospital officials. It is not as if Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital fired these nurses out of the blue. In addition, flu shots have not shown to harm people who receive them. If anything, they provide the nurses with additional protection.