The adverse effects of influenza have been documented as to average to over 200,000 and 360,000 hospitalizations and deaths respectively on an annual basis in the United States (Ottenberg et al., 2011). Despite these and the increased awareness concerning influenza, the vaccinations against the flu remain greatly low ("Influenza Vaccination Information for Health Care Workers| Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC," 2016). The Swine flu vaccination, also the H1N1 flu, is among the vaccines that have been met with a lot of controversies throughout the world. The same case applies to an array of vaccines and also to whether or not people should be immunized against certain diseases. For instance, there has been the Health Care Professionals and Employers Mandatory Influenza vaccination policy, which is yet to be embraced by all employers or is opposed by the employees. Such breeds the question of whether or not immunizations should be made mandatory or not through the use of policies.
Taking the example of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seatle, the mandatory vaccination policy was implemented in 2005 while the same policy against H1N1 failed in New York State in 2009. In other words, the flu vaccination has been met with a lot of upheaval with the majority of the people refusing to get the vaccine. Masks have been proposed for protection against the flu even though the use of masks can be taken as an uncalled-for display of a victims health condition which can be taken to violate medical privacy. However, it is a necessary move if unvaccinated people are to stay safe from the flu.
The federal government plays a major role in enforcing the mandatory vaccination for health care workers ("Influenza Vaccination Information for Health Care Workers| Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC," 2016). For instance, they enacted a policy targeting the reduction of payments by 2% for facilities with less than 90% employee flu vaccination. This can be reflected by the annual employee flu vaccination that the workers are expected to undergo. Along which there is the Vaccine Act that was initiated in 1988 and is aimed at ensuring that the workers are compensated for any injury or form of harm induced by the mandatory vaccination. Notably, the Vaccine Act was established because the federal government wanted to ensure continuous production of the vaccines by the pharmaceutical companies since they almost ceased production due to some litigations concerning harm by the vaccines. The Medicare/Medicaid policies including the Affordable Health Care Act 2015 can be taken as the federal governments strategy of trying to enable the workers and other people access and afford the vaccine annually.
The flu vaccine has been linked to a number of harmful effects such as causing of Narcolepsy in Great Britain and also the increased exposure of the subjects to Guillain-Barre syndrome. For instance, 1,300 people were exposed to Narcolepsy in Great Britain after being vaccinated against flu; some cases of Narcolepsy were permanent affecting over 700 children. In addition to this, the vaccine is associated with resulting to severe allergic reactions to some people even though the FDA still approves the use of such vaccines. Due to such mentioned effects, the ANA happens to be against the flu vaccination being mandatory among health workers.
In my opinion, it is only logical if people get vaccinated against common deadly diseases such as influenza. In as much as the people are against the vaccinations, it is impossible to overlook the risks that are associated with health care workers as they conduct their activities in their facilities. If for instance, a single subject (mostly a patient) is infected with the H1N1 flu, it would only take a matter of times before the infection is spread from the patient to those in the facility, whether doctors or patients. The fact is, the flu is very contagious particularly as it is easily passed through the air and also through the fine droplets of a flu cough, talk or sneeze from an infected person. Even worse, a person can be infected with the flu and not feel sick yet be very contagious. Further, flu infection is quite serious and can easily lead to hospitalization or even death. However, if the people get vaccinated against the flu, then such adverse effects can be easily tackled.
In a nutshell, the issue of vaccination against influenza should be a matter of policy among in all states. I am of the opinion that the policies be made user-friendly (as incentives) rather than be made mandatory. If an employee or a physician is not willing to be vaccinated, then they should be allowed to use other protective tactics such as wearing of gas masks. I strongly support the vaccination since even the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) strongly recommend it for all health workers and also other people in the U.S. ("Influenza Vaccination Information for Health Care Workers| Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC", 2016). The only issue is that since the vaccination poses some diverse effects on the subject people, the vaccination should be given less frequently, say after three years if that is possible, instead of being given annually. In addition to that, continuous research should be done and invested into so as to develop less harmful vaccines which pose more positive than negative side effects on the subjects. Finally, I would suggest that enough tests be done to the people before they are vaccinated so that there be no allergic reactions or medical histories which would cause any negative reaction towards the vaccine. In this case, those not compatible to the vaccine should be given alternative protective measures to keep them safe from disease.
Influenza Vaccination Information for Health Care Workers| Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC. (2016). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 4 February 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/healthcareworkers.htm
Ottenberg, A., Wu, J., Poland, G., Jacobson, R., Koenig, B., & Tilburt, J. (2011). Vaccinating Health Care Workers Against Influenza: The Ethical and Legal Rationale for a Mandate. American Journal Of Public Health, 101(2), 212-216. http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2009.190751
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