Public should ask about vaccine effectiveness
Despite the 2009 ruling in favor of nurses’ right to decline the influenza vaccination (and keep their jobs), the state Department of Health recommended and the Public Health and Health Planning Council adopted a new regulation regarding Title 10, Section 2.59, “Regulation for Prevention of Influenza Transmission by Healthcare and Residential Facility and Agency Personnel” requiring health care workers not vaccinated (for influenza) wear surgical masks during patient contact. This regulation goes into effect July 31. Strangely, there are no vaccination regulations placed on potential patient visitors who will likely experience less than sterile contact with patients.
Vaccine effectiveness for last year’s flu season was between 56 to 62 percent, depending which report you read. The Centers for Disease Control reports that, for the population over 65 years of age, there was only a 9 percent vaccine effectiveness in the 2012 flu season.
Vaccinations of any kind pose certain and uncertain risks to people. As a health care worker I take informed consent very seriously as a right not only for patients, but as my individual right. Physicians who receive financial incentives from pharmaceutical companies, pending the number of flu shots that they administer, would do their patients a greater justice by providing them with all the facts. Informed patients can make their own decision about the flu vaccination.
This new regulation places undue burden on health care facilities to ensure masks are being worn by non-vaccinated workers (singling them out as black sheep) and demands oversight by the Department of Health to make sure proper policy and procedure are being followed. No doubt, a cost to the health care facility and state taxpayers to implement this new regulation will ensue.
There is a concentrated effort to increase flu vaccinations. As a consumer ask yourself why this is when vaccine effectiveness and safety standards are not as convincing as they should be.
Who stands to profit most? It might be safer to be a black sheep than just follow the flock.
Nancy Kipp, RN, BSN.