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Your Rights (or Lack Thereof) Against Mandatory Vaccine Programs

Mandatory flu vaccine policies are touching more lives than ever right now, especially in the healthcare field – here is why and who is speaking up against it (it might surprise you).

New Hospital Policies
New hospital policies on mandatory flu vaccines for its employees is an excellent example of what rights and liberties we really have to say no.
As you may be aware of, the newly enacted Affordable Heathcare Act (aka Obamacare) has been implemented. What you may not be aware of is that the Policy establishes a Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program.[*]
What the heck does that have to do with flu vaccines and HCWs – well, under the Hospital VBP Program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will reduce payment amounts depending on if performance standards are reached within that hospital.[*][*][*]
What performance standards, exactly?
Beginning JAN 1st (2013), hospitals will be required to submit summary data on influenza vaccination of their healthcare personnel (via the CDC and the National Healthcare Safety Newtork-NHSN).[*]
In summary, hospitals will not get fully reimbursement through government funds unless they meet their performance standards for influenza vaccination set by the government.
….ahhhhh, now it makes sense why hospital’s ‘care’ so much about their patients being protected from catching the flu from their personnel.

No Exemption For You

First off, as you may be aware, there are State laws in place that provide exemptions for some populations. Such as:[*]

-children attending day-care centers
-day-care center employees
-college students
-hospital patients
-residents of long-term care facilities

However, the laws protecting average adults such as myself (and you) are lacking.[*]
If the administration at your job decided one day that mandatory vaccination was in the best interest for their bottom line then (unless barring approved medical exemption) you would be required to oblige or face termination.
There is no religious or philosophical exemption option for you – even if you State allows these for populations that are listed above.
You read that right - no constitutional right exists to either religious or philosophic exemptions for the average person.
The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right for vaccine exemption. This is considered for the  common good and that an organized society could not exist without “safety to its members”.[*]
But what happens when Policy is carried out without scientific evidence supporting it?
People start to speak up…

The Push Back
I get it, the strategy for this recommendation is based on the argument (rather than actual data) that because of their proximity to patients, HCW mandatory vaccination protects themselves and their patients from influenza (and complications from it).
Unfortunately, the evidence base supporting this mandatory policy is unsound, prejudiced and not supported by existing literature.[*]
There are many policies that are carried out that lack evidence, but when real people are losing everything they’ve worked for because of it then people start getting noisy.
(And if you have not been affected or know someone who has than it is only a matter of time until you do).

Last year in my state of Ohio, which has a mandate that hospital employees be vaccinated, the healthcare company TriHealth fired more than 150 workers for not complying with influenza vaccine mandates.[*]

Such massive terminations from hospitals do not go unnoticed, National Nurses Union (the largest nurses union in the country) began to speak publicly on its opposition to such mandatory policies required of healthcare workers.

“RNs care deeply about health policies regarding the transmission of the influenza virus in  health care settings, but believe that comprehensive employer-sponsored voluntary vaccination programs can be effective only if extensive education is provided on the risks and benefits of vaccination, the vaccines are conveniently accessible to employees.

Mandatory flu vaccination programs engender distrust and resistance among employees; offer a disincentive to providing vaccination education to employees, and raise ethical and legal questions about the personal employment rights of employees.”[*]  

The National Nurses Union (NNU) joines the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, as well as other major healthcare unions and organizations, who all say there is insufficient evidence for the federal government to promote mandatory influenza vaccination programs that might result in employment termination.[*]

The co-president for the NNU, Karen Higgins, goes on record to state:

“It is unfortunate that for-profit pharmaceutical companies were consulted in this matter yet the voices of the nation’s direct-care hospital RNs have gone unheard. Nurses are calling for an open process to explore the best way to protect patients and healthcare workers, not one that is driven by corporate profits.”[*]

The Data

Data published just last month (SEPT 2013) from the CDC, illustrates little evidence of protection for patients when a mandatory flu vaccination programs for HCW’s is employed.[*]

In fact, The Cochrane Review analysis found no evidence to support compulsory vaccination of HCW (finding “low or very low levels of evidence”).[*]
Data published in 2009 from a meta-analysis review presents NO evidence that the flu vaccine decreases complications, such as pneumonia, or TRANSMISSION.[* 

This is not only unsettling but outrageous considering hardworking people are losing their jobs and their families are suffering because of this.  
Vaccination of healthcare workers to protect vulnerable patients should be viewed as an evidence-based recommendation. Period.


Please continue share the stories you come across where nurses or healthcare workers find themselves having to choose between maintaining their financial security or holding on to their personal beliefs and convictions.

The post is dedicated to my friend, who has requested to be anonymous because she fears that she will be terminated if this post is seen by her employer.

Below is part of the document she recently received from her employer/hospital. She is currently breastfeeding and has a choice to administered an influenza vaccine or be terminated. Medical exemption does not qualify breastfeeding as a contradiction. All medical exemption must be approved by a review process established by hospital leadership.

Your voice is heard.


  1. Thank you for writing about this. I had no idea - but am not surprised. I think it's past due for something like Obamacare, but you can be sure that the companies who have something to gain by it have been lobbying for this and that to be included. There are new flu vaccines in the research stage that promise to be much, much more effective than the ones we have now, but they are not out yet.

  2. Great post! I agree with you. The majority of nurses that I work with roll their sleeves up against their will out of fear. Many of them are the bread-winners in their households. I encouraged people to make noise about this and post info to social media all of the time, but many are silent for fear of punishment. I can't really blame them. I am part time and willing to lose my job over it.


Please be respectful. If you are about to say something that you would not let your child hear, then please refrain from saying it.