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HICprevent

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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

'We don’t believe in this hospital that it is your inalienable right to catch and transmit a potentially fatal infection.'

January 12th, 2015

In light of recent media reports of more workers being fired for refusing to be vaccinated against influenza, I recalled the rather no-nonsense view of veteran vaccine science advocate Paul Offit, MD, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The hospital began a mandatory immunization policy in 2009 in the name of patient safety and similar firings resulted for a handful of refuseniks.

“We don’t believe in this hospital that it is your inalienable right to catch and transmit a potentially fatal infection,” Offit said in a recent interview about this recurrent controversy. “Even if the [vaccination] efficacy is as poor as say 30%, 35% or 40% that is still better than zero percent — which is what you get by not getting vaccinated.”

The most recent report comes from the University of Indiana in Bloomington, where three nurses and five other employees were shown the door for refusing to be vaccinated. One 61-year-old nurse reportedly told ABC News, "This is my body. I have a right to refuse the flu vaccine.”

She wore all black on her last day. Better her than the family members of an immune compromised patient, who died because some choose to ignore the prime ethical directive in medicine – first do no harm.