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NVAC Says: Mandate Flu Shots for Health Care Workers
Posted: 2/21/2012 10:32:51 AM | with 0 comments

By Theresa Wrangham, NVIC Executive Director
 
On Feb. 8, the federal National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) approved strong recommendations for employers of health care workers to mandate annual flu shots as a condition of employment. The Committee justified this action as necessary to "meet" the goals of Healthy People 2020.  The NVAC approved these measures, despite written and oral public comment supporting informed consent and against influenza vaccine mandates for health care workers. The NVAC’s actions failed to recommend exemption requirements for religious and conscientious/personal belief in their report, which will now go to U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health (ASH) for further action.
 
The NVAC’s report to the ASH also failed to present balanced scientific information on influenza vaccine and omitted vaccine safety reviews, such as the Institutes of Medicine August 2011 report: Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality, and other systematic reviews demonstrating the lack of safety and efficacy[1][2][3] for influenza vaccine. Many committee members stated concern that without vaccine mandates, health care workers risked transmission of influenza to their patients. However, they did not acknowledge that independent, systematic reviews of the medical literature have demonstrated that fears regarding health care worker transmission of Type A an B Influenza are without scientific merit.[4][5]
 
Currently adult influenza vaccine injury claims are the leading claim in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.[6] In addition to the written public comments submitted by NVIC to the NVAC last month, I stated during last week’s meeting that NVIC is opposed to any influenza vaccine mandate lacking flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions and expressed the need for NVAC to correct the omission of relevant science in their report. The NVAC’s report also failed to guide state vaccine policymakers on potential liability resulting from the report’s recommendations. States will have to address the potential rising unemployment and Workers’ Compensation claims among health care workers, who are fired for noncompliance with influenza vaccine mandates and/or who become vaccine injured when they are forced to get annual flu shots or be fired.
 
As NVIC’s written and verbal public comments at NVAC made clear, zealous pursuit of the shortsighted Healthy People 2020 goal and a one-size-fits-all vaccination policy undermines not only the informed consent ethic, but has the potential to create staffing shortages in health care. It also has the potential to increase state taxpayer burden by increasing unemployment and Workers’ Compensation claims, as well as increasing state-paid legal costs involved with defending flu shot mandates for health care workers.
 
 
Colorado Will Require Flu Shots for Health Care Workers
By Theresa Wrangham, NVIC Executive Director
 
On Feb. 15, at a meeting of the Colorado Board of Health, the Board passed a rule change that will require some health care workers to receive an annual flu shot. The rule is based on phased-in benchmarks that will ultimately require that 90% of health care workers in identified settings have either proof of vaccination or a qualified medical exemption. Cindy Loveland, NVIC’s State Advocacy Assistant, and I attended the meeting and we gave public comment against the rule change in support of health care workers’ right to exercise informed consent to vaccination through exemptions that allow refusal for medical, religious or conscientious belief reasons.
 
There was heated public comment from health care workers opposing the proposed rule change as a violation of their civil liberties. The cost analysis for the rule change failed to address potential liabilities resulting from the rule change to the state, health care employers and facilities, including staffing shortages, increased Worker’s Compensation claims for vaccine injury, and increases in unemployment benefits paid out to health care workers fired for refusing to get an annual flu shot. 
 
The analysis also failed to include reviews of the medical literature for influenza vaccine by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which stated in 2011 that science has not identified all of the pre-existing genetic and biological susceptibilities to vaccine complications and revealed vaccine safety research gaps for influenza  vaccine.[7] Also omitted in the analysis were reviews on influenza vaccine published by the Cochrane Collaboration and studies published in the medical literature, which demonstrate that most influenza vaccine studies are poorly designed and fail to demonstrate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy or that vaccinated care workers are unable to infect their patients with influenza.[8] NVIC's written comments to the Board highlighted these concerns and can be read here.
 
NVIC asked that these studies be included and considered by the Board and that a requirement be included for employers of health care workers to offer flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions to vaccination for the workers.
 
The Board passed the rule change in a 7 to 1 vote without including flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions to influenza vaccination for health care workers. Once fully phased-in, if the 90% benchmark is not reached, health care workers in Colorado, who don’t qualify for medical exemption as defined in the rule, can be fired if they refuse to get an annual flu shot.
 
We will keep NVIC Vaccine E-News readers informed on next steps regarding this rule change on NVIC’s Advocacy Portal

 
New IOM Committee Examines Vax/Unvax Study Feasibility
 
On Feb. 9, the Institute of Medicine’s new Committee on Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule held their first public meeting at the Pew Charitable Trust in Washington, D.C.. The IOM Committee, which is chaired by Dr. Ada Sue Hinshaw, is conducting an independent assessment of the feasibility of a study that would evaluate health outcomes in children, who were vaccinated according to the CDC recommended schedule, those using an alternative schedule, and those remaining unvaccinated.
 
NVIC’s Co-founder & President, Barbara Loe Fisher, was invited to present a public perspective at the meeting. In her heavily referenced presentation, she pointed out that “The public is increasingly distrustful of the one-size-fits-all, universal use approach that is designed to maximize individual vaccine use and increase population coverage.  Federal vaccine policies and state mandates, which fail to acknowledge biodiversity and the fact that we are not all the same and do not all respond the same way to vaccines – just as we do not all respond the same way to prescription drugs – is appropriately viewed by parents as inherently unequal, unsafe and unethical when the risk of vaccine injury or death for their children turns out to be 100 percent.”
 
She noted that “The significant change in vaccine schedules during the past half century, which has altered the way infants and children immunologically experience their environment, cannot be left off the table when it comes to investigating the unexplained child chronic disease and disability epidemic, an epidemic that is bankrupting families, the health care system and public schools, which can’t build special education classrooms and train special ed teachers fast enough.”
 
Other presenters at the public meeting were Dr. Bruce Gellin; Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton; Dr. Gary Freed; Dr. Susan Ellenberg; Dr. Robert Nelson; Dr. Melinda Wharton; Dr. Frank DeStefano; Dr. Saad Omer and Dr. Chuck Hackett.  Among those, who attended and offered public comment, were Dr. Vicky Debold, NVIC Director of Patient Safety and Research; Chris Downey, developer and manager of the Vaccine Ingredient Calculator featured on NVIC.org; Eric Uram, SafeMinds Executive Director; and Age of Autism contributors, Jake Crosby and Josh Mazer.
 
For more information on the IOM Committee and the Feb. 9 meeting, Click here for latest information on the Committee’s work. 


Upcoming Federal Vaccine Advisory Committee Meetings
 
Feb. 28-29 - FDA Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC): This FDA committee reviews data about the safety, effectiveness and use of human vaccines and related biological products. At the Feb. 28-29 meeting, the Committee will recommend three influenza strains to be included in the 2012/2013 influenza vaccine; review information on pandemic influenza surveillance; and discuss licensure pathways for pandemic influenza vaccines.  NVIC's volunteer Director of Patient Safety and Research, Vicky Debold, PhD, RN, has served on VRBPAC as the consumer representative since 2008.  For more information on the meeting schedule, how to participate or view the webcast, click here.  
 
 
NVIC Working in States to Help Americans Protect Vaccine Choices 
By Theresa Wrangham, NVIC Executive Director
 
Are you a member of NVIC’s Advocacy Portal? This year promises to be an unprecedented year of attacks on vaccine freedom and every state could end up on the block for change.  However, freedom cannot be defeated easily and NVIC is also helping parents in different states work on legislation that expands vaccine exemptions to protect informed consent rights. We monitor attacks on freedom and support its expansion in all states!
 
The cornerstone of NVIC’s 30-year mission is to empower consumers to obtain full and accurate information on the risks and benefits associated with vaccines so they can make educated and voluntary vaccination decisions. A one-size-fits-all approach to vaccine policies and laws does not respect our individual biological differences and violates informed consent rights.
 
NVIC’s free online Advocacy Portal keeps users up-to-date on proposed laws that would restrict or expand vaccine choices in the states. Your legislators need to hear your voice when you agree or disagree with vaccine laws proposed in your state. NVIC’s one-of-a-kind online portal puts you in touch with your elected state representatives with the click of a mouse or touch on your SmartPhone. As a Portal user, you get timely Action Alerts and tips on how to communicate effectively with your legislator.
 
Below are our most current Action Alerts. Act today to protect and expand vaccine freedom in your state by signing up and becoming a user of NVIC’s Advocacy Portal!
 
AZ
2/16/2012
OPPOSE bill requiring health professional to sign off on religious and personal exemptions
CO
2/16/2012
OPPOSE a flu vaccine mandate for healthcare workers that doesn’t offer religious or personal exemptions
FL
2/19/2012
OPPOSE a bill to push HPV vaccine on FL 6th graders
IA
2/19/2012
OPPOSE a proposal to spend $250,000 on an HPV Vaccine education program and 2.5 million on vaccines
MS
2/16/2012
SUPPORT a bill to expand the Medical Exemption to Mandatory Vaccination
OR
2/19/2012
OPPOSE a bill to require health care workers get an annual flu vaccine
VA
2/16/2012
SUPPORT a bill to ELIMINATE the HPV Vaccine requirement for school children
VT
2/11/2012
OPPOSE a bill to ELIMINATE philosophical exemptions in Vermont
VT
2/11/2012
OPPOSE a bill to ELIMINATE philosophical exemptions
WV
2/19/2012
SUPPORT a bill to add religious and conscientious belief exemptions for school children in WV
WY
2/20/2012
OPPOSE a bill on Meningococcal vaccination – Has Passed Out of Committee and is Heading to Senate Floor
 

NVIC Making News
 
Vaccine Speech in Portland Educates Families – More than 400 people from Oregon and Washington state attended a speech by NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher on Feb. 2, 2012 at the Newmark Theater at the Portland Performing Arts Center. The multi-media presentation entitled “Vaccination: The Right to Know & Freedom to Choose” was sponsored by Dr. Jeff Devine, of Devine Chiropractic in Portland.
 
Fred and MyLynda King and Dr. John Green, who are featured in the film documentary The Greater Good, were in the audience, along with Washington state vaccine safety and informed consent advocates Karl Kanthak and NVIC’s Washington State Advocacy Team Director, Janelle Hall.
 
More Doctors 'Fire' Vaccine Refusers (Wall Street Journal – Feb. 15, 2012)Pediatricians fed up with parents, who refuse to vaccinate their children out of concern it can cause autism or other problems, increasingly are "firing" such families from their practices, raising questions about a doctor's responsibility to these patients. Pamela Felice said "A doctor should feel obligated to discuss [potential vaccine] risks with any parent who wants to discuss them."  Read More
 
Some States Weigh Opt-out Laws for Mandatory Immunizations (USA Today - Feb. 15, 2012).  Legislation pending in seven states to widen exemptions for mandatory vaccination requirements for children sparks debate among public health experts and parents. [NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher, was not quoted accurately in this article. She – and NVIC – support the universal human right to informed consent to medical risk taking, including voluntary use of vaccines, independent of scientific research].  Read More…
 
Flu Shots For Workers In Health Care Setting Approved (CBS 4 Denver – Feb. 15, 2012) The vote was 7-1. The plan would be phased in over a period of 3 years. It will eventually require 90 percent of health workers to get flu shots. “We have to insure that health care workers are treated the same way you and I are, as individuals. They have the same rights you and I do on informed consent. They should have the right to say no,” said National Vaccine Information Center spokeswoman Theresa Wrangham.  Read More…  
 
More Vaccine News
 
Responses to UBC vaccine paper a problem for free scientific inquiry and expression. UBC researchers raise questions, experience backlash (Vancouver Courier -  Jan. 30, 2012): These calls to silence critical discussion of a still open scientific question are troubling. Science progresses by investigation, debate and full discussion, not by fiat and censorship. Read more
 
Oregon Nurses Association Attempts to Change Oregon’s Vaccination Law (The Lund Report – Feb. 1, 2012)The nurses have the support of labor unions and the Oregon Health Care Association, but the hospital association has raised objections. The flu vaccine is widely available this time of year, from doctor’s offices to pharmacies to work places. For most people, it’s a choice, but for health care workers in Oregon and around the country, that choice is becoming increasingly threatened. Read More

A Look At Vermont’s Debate Over the Philosophical Exemption to Vaccination (WAMC Northeast Public Radio – Feb. 9, 2012) - Vermont is one of twenty states that allows a parent to opt out of having their child vaccinated if they do not agree with the idea for any reason. Senate Bill 199 would remove that philosophical exemption. Read More… 


References:


[2] Jefferson T. 2006. Influenza vaccination: policy versus evidenceBritish Medical Journal.
[3] Osterholm M, Kelley N, Sommer A, Belongia E, Efficacy and Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccines: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Early Online Publication, 26 October 2011, doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70295-X
[4] Patrozou, Mermel: Does Influenza Transmission Occur from Asymptomatic Infection or Prior to Symptom Onset?, Public Health Rep. 2009 Mar-Apr; 124(2): 193–196.
[5] Thomas RE, Jefferson T, Lasserson TJ. Influenza vaccination for healthcare workers who work with the elderly. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005187. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005187.pub3
[6] Minutes – Federal Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV), March 3-4, 2011 
[7] Stratton K, Ford A, Rusch E, Clayton EW, editors. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. National Academies Press: 2011. Pages 351-353: Summary of Epidemiologic Assessments, Mechanistic Assessments, and Causality Conclusions for the Influenza Vaccine.
[8] Ibid endnote 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
 
Posted: 2/21/2012 10:32:51 AM | with 0 comments





  
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