The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Healthy People 2020” initiative states a goal of vaccinating 90% of the nation’s healthcare workers with the influenza vaccine annually by 2020, a goal well underway to being achieved. A separate DHHS goal aims to vaccinate 80% of all U.S. employees annually with the influenza vaccine by 2020.
There’s no light at the end of this tunnel. With literally hundreds of new vaccines in the works, there will always be another person to get a vaccine, and another vaccine to give a person. Taxpayers, through state and federal governments, pay:
- Billions of dollars in subsidies to pharmaceutical companies to research and develop new vaccines,
- Our state and federal representatives to pass laws mandating more vaccines for children and adults while restricting access to vaccine exemptions,
- For vaccines purchased by government health agencies, and
- Over $100 million annually to compensate vaccine injury and death victims and their families.
Vaccine manufacturers have no liability, yet these same companies routinely engage in criminal behavior that routinely results in criminal fines in the 100’s of millions of dollars – a billion dollars in some cases.
We can expect more or the same unless and until we become legislatively active and get laws passed giving us the right to make informed vaccine choices, and giving us proper access to complete information. In the meantime, here’s a look at what’s happening around the country with employee influenza vaccine mandates.
What Does the Science Say?
First, are policies mandating flu shots for employees scientifically justified? Multiple peer-reviewed medical studies and other mainstream medical sources tell us that influenza vaccines don’t work. In fact, the research reveals that they may actually lower protection and cause an increase in flu-like illnesses, while studies favoring the vaccine have been shown by independent sources to be fatally flawed. Meanwhile, the very real, serious vaccine-induced injuries and deaths are downplayed or ignored altogether. Over 60% of recent government vaccine injury and death payouts have been for death and disability caused by influenza vaccines, more than all other vaccines combined, and federal officials have admitted that 90-99% of serious vaccine adverse events never even get reported. So, the origins of influenza vaccine policies have little to do with public health.
We should be concerned about mandates that impose on our personal health choices generally, but especially one aggressively promoted and coercively applied that is based on false pretenses such as the influenza vaccine campaigns. To understand what’s going on in the vaccine world, you have to understand medical politics. Vaccines are a growing multi-billion dollar international industry. Ironically, concerns about the underlying corruption and politics won’t help healthcare workers get an exemption, because hospital administrators, with respect to healthcare worker influenza vaccine mandates, for example, are just not in a position to debate the science due to the money that is involved. Rather, these are points for our state representatives, in a face-to-face meeting if you want them to actually see or hear and respond to your concerns.
What Does the Law Say?
Several sources have claimed that hospitals must vaccinate 90% of their employees to avoid losing up to 2.5% of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, which could be a “make-it-or-break-it” proposition for many hospitals, financially. However, applicable regulations require only that hospitals report healthcare workers influenza vaccine data, they do not have a minimum vaccination rate requirement. This may be why many hospitals have yet to implement strict influenza vaccine mandates, but more have been doing so with each passing year in recent years. Regardless, more and more hospitals are implementing influenza vaccine mandates for their employees, and the policy is often pursued aggressively, with many hospitals naively seeking 100% compliance from their employees.
Meanwhile, most state exemption laws apply to students only, and not employees, so most U.S. employees don’t have a state exemption law they can use to refuse vaccines required for work. But employers are required, in effect, to provide an exemption once one is properly requested, under federal law, as discussed below.
What’s Really Happening?
Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve helped over 300 healthcare workers from New England to Hawaii avoid mandatory vaccines in the workplace, and that has given me some unique insights. One medical doctor reported having 4 patients that developed Guillaine Barre Syndrome (GBS) from the flu shot; 3 of them died. This is a far cry from some health officials’ “one in a million” claims. Nor is this an isolated case; many doctors report multiple GBS cases in their practices. And death, while perhaps a rare occurrence in terms of the percentage of vaccines administered, is nevertheless a common occurrence. The severe adverse events of influenza vaccines are disturbingly misrepresented by public health officials, and no one can tell you your risk – whether or not you will be the next vaccine victim – unless you refuse the vaccine, in which case the odds are pretty good that you won’t have a severe vaccine reaction. But employees are increasingly finding it difficult to exercise that option.
Anecdotal reports suggest that it is difficult for hospital employees to get a vaccine exemption. Nurses from different parts of the country have reported that their hospital systems received over 1,000 exemption requests, more than 1,500 in one instance; yet, hospital administrators bragged about allowing only four exemptions in one instance, and few to none in other cases. So, this is one exemption arena that can be difficult to navigate without formal legal counsel and support.
While every situation is ultimately unique, some broad consistencies have stood out among my healthcare worker clients and their hospital employers. First, the vast majority of hospitals implement policies that violate federal law; they are overly restrictive in their zealous effort to maximize vaccine rates. Some of the most common unlawful policy provisions include:
- Requiring a letter from a member of the clergy for religious exemptions,
- Requiring employees to sign a statement saying they agree with “facts” about exemption consequences with which the employee disagrees,
- Openly identifying unvaccinated employees–for example, with colored dots on their name badges, and
- Requiring unvaccinated employees to wear a face mask at all times during flu season. How to deal with these unlawful policies is another question, as hospital administrators are not likely to make policy changes based on their employees’ objections or opinions about the law.
Another alarming consistency is the large percentage of hospitals that have either recently been bought out, are in the process or being bought out, or are about to be bought out. There is a rapid consolidation of hospitals going on throughout the country. While the underlying agenda is not entirely clear to this author, one obvious consequence is that decision-making authority is moving up; more and more people are falling under the control of fewer and fewer decision-makers. Many other industries have been experiencing rapid consolidations as well, while state and federal governments have been assuming more and more power, stepping over Constitutional boundaries while power continues to become more and more centralized. We are in the midst of a rapid restructuring of our society as we once knew it, and the results include less and less individual autonomy and control over our lives. We should be very concerned about where this is all heading, and what steps we can take to reverse this transformation as soon as possible.
One disturbing example of this in the hospital world is that some hospital administrators refuse to revise their policies, to bring them into compliance with federal law, when confronted with the fact that their policies are unlawful, despite at least implicitly admitting that their policies are unlawful by granting my clients the exemption. I have never had a hospital attorney argue that the hospital policy is lawful in such instances, but sometimes, hospital administrators will replace one unlawful policy with another unlawful policy in an effort to keep the number of exemptions as low as possible. But the risk from these shots, which offer little if any protection, is permanent disability and death. So, it’s clear that the nation’s healthcare system is pretty severely dysfunctional. This assertion was profoundly underscored in June of 2014, when the CDC’s vaccine safety research was exposed as flawed and falsified in a peer-reviewed medical journal. This journal article was an amazing step forward toward exposing the truth about vaccines, but it will take a lot more than this to heal the system.
I see a national trend of hospitals moving to more restrictive medical exemption policies. For example, an egg allergy used to be a commonly accepted basis for receiving a medical exemption in the workplace, but the trend is toward allowing medical exemptions only when there is a history of anaphylactic shock from a vaccine or Guillaine Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of a vaccine. One nurse had letters from three medical doctors each presenting a different medical basis for an exemption, but the employer still said “get the shot or you’re fired.” Equally disturbing, pregnancy is increasingly rejected as a medical basis for refusing a flu vaccine. It may be possible to mount a legal challenge against employers in these situations, but ultimately, medical exemptions may boil down to a battle of the experts, theirs against yours, and if all other things are equal, public policy, which favors vaccines, may determine the outcome.