The difference between obstructing and destroying freedom can be easily concealed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older get a yearly flu shot. That’s a lot of shots. Apparently, all we really need is air, water, food, shelter, and a lifetime of yearly flu shots to be happy and protect our national economy.
Recommendations are one thing, but medical facilities mandating flu shots for healthcare workers to comply with federal programs is unconstitutional, and singled out exemptions further violate equal protection under the law.
Within our Healthcare Industrial Complex (HIC), diverse professionals have been covertly homogenized into “providers” and are increasingly being mandated—with a threat of expulsion or its equivalent—to roll up our sleeves or drop our drawers to get the flu shot. If we decline, we’ll be punished. Any back talk and we will be outcast—or maybe even fired or suspended if you work or practice in Lake County, Ohio, where substituting more effective alternative measures of patient protection has been unilaterally and unjustly prohibited.
Since 2015, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has put medical facilities on notice: If your staff doesn’t get flu shots, we will cut payments for services.Yet, as we look at the evidence, there are good reasons to challenge carte-blanche flu-shots. Not all shots are effective, safe, or qualify as vaccines.
Not All Shots Are Created Equal
Respected scientific and occupational organizations have scrutinized years of CDC data and its methods, which are heavily layered with assumptions. In summary:
Injected influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza and [influenza-like illness], as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one influenza case…vaccination may have little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations…or number of working days lost.
Reducing transmission has equally dim prospects in addition to the virus having multiple inanimate vectors. That’s gentle sentiment compared to some opinions of studies supporting yearly flu shots as “rubbish.” Generally, the scientific evidence refutes our HIC’s pushing flu shots for a “drastic reduction” of the flu or its spread to others. This is old news, yet the reality detachment continues. Why? Historically, we have invalidated scores of past ‘effective’ therapies from bloodletting and trephination to postmenopausal estrogen and Vioxx. What could possibly be the unrealized consequences of tens of thousands of marginally effective flu shots? We should not be afraid to ask, and diminishing returns are already becoming evident.
When early versions of the polio vaccine caused childhood deaths and paralysis, trials with 88 percent effectiveness were stopped, and researchers were called murderers. Flu shot related deaths are extremely rare, but the complication rate is not insignificant with effectiveness routinely less than half of the murderous early polio vaccines. Getting flu “symptoms” is a 25-60 percent risk, severe breathing difficulty 1:12,000 (about half the death rate of driving), temporary paralysis 1:100,000, and anaphylaxis (which can be deadly) 1:500,000 (about the same risk of death bungee-jumping). All this money is going somewhere, and so is the solemn boundary between evidence-based medicine and government.
This is no “misconception”; it is the World Health Organization and Health and Human Services data. In the last 12 years, 86 percent of 3,299 flu shot death or injury claims were compensable. That accounts for 68 percent of all claims paid for more than 30 vaccines covered in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which has indemnified vaccine manufacturers since 1986. When averaged, that amounts to almost $1.5 billion per taxpayer of VICP outlays in the last 10 years for the flu shot. Is a “small protective effect” worth your risk? Maybe. Speak with a trusted “provider.” It’s your choice, for now.
However, if you are a “provider” in a growing number of HICs or Lake County, Ohio, bend over and behold! Our politicians have vowed that “health care” a basic human “right,” and now “providers” might get caught with their pants down. Better yet, let’s leave that surprise to CMS and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(PPACA) threatening our livelihoods with cuts in reimbursement if declining a flu shot. Is it relevant that recent data essentially confirmed no cost/benefit? “The vaccine was not found to be cost saving in healthy working adults…” All this money is going somewhere, and so is the solemn boundary between evidence-based medicine and government as it is homogenized along with its professionals.
There is precedent for some employees to comply with the CDC recommendation, but only by contract. Non-at-will employees have a conscientious right of refusal. James Madison said, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property,” and our courtssay our flesh is a close second. That is the real muscle of this issue and so happens to be the beating heart of our Bill of Rights and the United States of America. Except, astonishingly, in our modern HIC, where “…the right to conscience should be “support[ed] …only when it agrees with one’s own beliefs.”
Forced Flu Shots Repress Freedom
Flu shot mandates are just the tip of a repressive needle that will be pushed deeper into our personal freedoms if we allow. When advanced slowly, it won’t even be painful.
How long will it take for this healthcare worker mandate to find traction for all employed private citizens? How is it that government and “provider’ organizations” can insinuate healthcare workers are being “unethical” regarding their personal medical care choices but tacitly admit having no idea “how often [transmission from healthcare worker to patient]…takes place”?
When we surrender to agendas bathed in good intentions while ceding our liberty, we become our creations. And in the process of being stewards of health and well-being to private citizens, we destroy ourselves. It’s cliché to say that “freedom isn’t free,” but rather, a duty to preserve our liberty by exercising it and infectiously inspiring others to do the same. Sharing your freedom begets your freedom. We can all spread freedom, without spreading disease.
Bradley J. Vargo, DO is a physician certified in anesthesiology and critical care medicine practicing in Lake County, Ohio.