Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Toss of the Dice... or a Shot in the Arm

Several years ago I had a flu vaccination and became very ill.  I was unable to leave my apartment for three months and consequently I missed work. A lot.  I was very sick, and I felt generally miserable.  As hell.  Since that time, I have not risked having another flu shot.  As a result, starting tomorrow I will be required to wear a surgical mask at work.  I work for a health care facility, and the employer has mandated that anyone who is not vaccinated against the flu is required to wear a mask.  Well fine.  I'll save money on lipstick.  So there.

In all seriousness, I don't believe employers should have the authority to force employees to undergo any medical interventions they don't wish to undergo.  During the course of my day-to-day duties, I have no contact with patients and I am not in a situation where I would be infected by patients.  I work in administration.  In any case, the flu vaccine is proven to be only 60% effective, and it does have side effects, one of which is death.  Yes, I would say death is a pretty good deterrent to the flu, and considering the bad reaction I had to my last flu shot, that is not a chance I wish to take.  And that is my right.

On Friday evening we received a directive from our union, as follows: On the eve of the implementation of a new province-wide health care worker influenza control policy, BCGEU in conjunction with Health Sciences Association and HEU has negotiated an agreement with the Ministry of Health that clarifies the implementation and enforcement provisions of the policy. The unions and the ministry have agreed that in the first year (2012/2013), the enforcement components of the policy will be in abeyance and staff will not be disciplined. In the first year of policy implementation the ministry and the unions have also agreed they will focus on educational efforts and onsite influenza clinics to promote healthy workplaces. “The agreement reached today takes away the threat of discipline, and reverts to the practice of educating members about the value of vaccination,” said BCGEU President Darryl Walker.

BCGEU continues to encourage members to be vaccinated and to take advantage of on-site flu vaccine clinics and take other precautionary measures to protect vulnerable patients. The unions also recognize that individual health care workers have a right to make their own personal health decisions. If they choose not to be vaccinated for any number of factors – including experiences with bad side effects to vaccines, and fundamental, philosophical, or religious objections to vaccination – that is their right. During a flu outbreak, existing employer policies will continue. This includes relocating staff, wearing protective masks, or staying at home. The ministry and the unions have agreed to meet to discuss future policies.

So, I will wear the mask until told otherwise. If you're walking along Broadway in the hospital district, and you see a woman wearing a yellow rain slicker and a surgical mask, do stop and say hello. It's probably me.

UPDATE:  The employer's mandate has been overruled by the Union, and people who have opted out of being vaccinated are not required to wear masks unless there is a flu outbreak.

14 comments:

Single and Sane said...

Oh, my. Is there a specific time frame? If I had ever had the kind of bad reaction you had, I would never get another flu shot again, either.

You're making the right choice. Best of luck!

Margaret

Sextant said...

Well Jo, I think you had a warning with that reaction. I wouldn't push my luck and try it again. When nature takes a shot across your bow, take heed.

Surgical masks can be quite stylish. And it is a two way street, things don't get out and things don't get in!

Besides you will be able to do some hideous lip curling at your superiors and they will never know...practice in the mirror first.

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DJan said...

Yikes. I don't know how I could make myself get another flu shot if I had a reaction like that. My husband had a bad reaction to his first one and was in bed for a week. He chose to have another the following year and there was no problem, but a week is quite different from three months. If I were you I'd wear the mask and skip the shot!

Leslie: said...

Thanks goodness I never had such a bad reaction because working in schools is like working in a cess pool. I always get my shot and have not have anything serious like flu since...colds, yes, but not the flu. Touch wood.

PinkPanthress said...

What the heck?
They can not make you wear that or take a vaccine.
What happened to the country of my dreams?

My mother took a vaccine, a few years ago, too because of her diabetes & her doctor rtelling her it would be better for her. She was almost half a year sick & there were times where we thought she might die.

Please, stay strong & do not let them make you take another one. *hug*

Em Parkinson said...

I used to get flu symptoms EVERY time I had the vaccine and stopped having it for years. I have type 1 diabetes and recently, the push for me to have one has become much more aggressive. This year I succumbed after my doctor pushed VERY hard and I was lucky enough to get away with it. My (rather laboured) point being, good on you! Sorry about the UK spelling there by the way. Google is not happy...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Your union is very effective. I also choose not to have the flu shot every year because of a terrible reaction the one time I did, years ago. I'm very glad you'll be allowed to continue mask-free for all the reasons your union has considered and covered. Now, go buy a new lipstick to celebrate!

Jay said...

I'm glad to hear it! Stupid idea unless there is an outbreak. I hate wearing a mask so I'm not for it unless medically indicated.

Personally, I equate my frozen shoulder episodes with flu shots and when I asked my doctor about this possibility he said -NO! and wouldn't even consider the possibility, although my physiotherapist who was treating the frozen shoulder said "potentially" it could be related and he had read of it so. . . no flu shot here!

Ruth W. said...

you will be very cute in your mask! I wouldn't get it either with the reaction you had either.

Paula Slade said...

Thank goodness for your Union.

Every time I've had a flu shot I have come down with the flu - I will not ever take another one.

Clinton Bashir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clinton Bashir said...

I'm not a doctor, but I've known people who got sick after the shot and turned out the possible reasons are: 1) the vaccine didn't have enough time to give the complete immunity against viruses; it takes a week or two after the shot to before it gives you full protection, so either you caught the virus before or within the week after the shot. 2) your body didn't respond to the shot or 3) you have another illness that has flu-like symptoms. Either way, I'm glad you're complying with your work's health regulation by wearing mask because the flu-shot didn't work for you. Stay healthy! Clinton@USHealthWorks.com/Spokane-Valley-Center.html

Teresa Rowe said...

The compromise that the Union came up with is certainly a good one. And I think people who work with healthcare such as yourself are responsible enough to wear masks if they feel that they’re coming down with something, so as to not pass it down to their patients. So getting a shot shouldn’t really be mandated as a prerequisite to work.

Teresa @ Family Medicine