I will give them this– This is a new anti-vax argument for me:
Like most medical facilities, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital appears to require that all of its employees receive an annual flu shot. It fired Sakile Chenzira, a customer service representative, for refusing to comply. Chenzira sued, claiming that because the flu vaccine contains eggs the requirement violated her religion—veganism—which prohibits the ingestion of any animals or animal by-products.
The influenza vaccine is produced in eggs. If youre vegan, this might present an ethical problem, for you. But most people are vegans for ethical reasons– I read somewhere that every flu shot requires two eggs. If you are a vegan because you value life, two eggs is a small price to pay to protect yourself, the ones you love, and total strangers.
You would think someone working in a hospital would care about the lives of humans and preventing human suffering even more than an Average Joe/Jane. Unless you are an angel, no one says on their med school interviews “I WANT TO BE A DOCTOR CAUSE I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE, OR JUST MAKING THEM SUFFER :-D”), and even a vegan would make this concession to protect others. Youd think wrong.
In support of her argument, Chenzira cited an essay, The Biblical Basis of Veganism. She also cited bible verse to her employer when she made her request for a religious accommodation.
INAL, IJRLWJJAJJBASJA*, but in the US its totally legal for you to kill yourself or your children for religious reasons. Dont want blood transfusions? Dont want pork parts in ya? Want to pray over your kid instead of getting them basic medical treatment? More power to you.
But not getting a vaccine is not a decision that only effects you. Like drunk driving, the anti-vax position effects everyone who comes into contact with you. That is why medical facilities, where you never know whether someone you are interacting with is immunocompromised, require flu vaccines. I am looking for post doc jobs right now, and all the ones at medical institutions clearly state in the job advertisement “THIS POSITION REQUIRES AN ANNUAL FLU SHOT”.
So I think ethically the radical vegans working in hospitals are in the same boat at the radical Christian pharmacists who dont want to fill birth control prescriptions– Their religion requires they value unfertilized eggs over live, sentient humans.
You chose your religion. And thats fine. But your religious choice doesnt get to interfere with others lives, safety, health, comfort, etc. If you are against birth control for moral reasons, then dont become a pharmacist or a physician or a nurse or take on any profession where you would be expected to issue birth control.
If you are vegan for religious reasons, do not pursue a profession where you are required to get flu shots *for the safety of others*. Your religion means more to you than *the safety of others*, so you arent quite suited for a medical career.
And that is the whole point of the flu vaccine requirement– *the safety of others*. It has nothing to do with religion. Its not ‘EMPLOYEES HAVE TO EAT BACON! ANYONE WHO DOESNT EAT BACON IS A DIRTY JEW/MUSLIM AND WE DONT WANT THEM WORKIN HERE!’ The requirement is there for medical reasons.
One of my aunts never got chicken pox. She works in a hospital. Before the chicken pox vaccine was available, every time there was a case in her ward of chickenpox, she had to 1) go home, or 2) work in a different section of the hospital. Not because she was A PAGAN CATHOLIC, but because if she got a primary chicken pox infection (which would have been terrible for her as an adult) and started shedding virus all over the ICUs, bad things would have happened. To lots of people. Not just her.
It will be very interesting to see how the judge ultimately rules, with this.
This self-centered jerk did, however unwittingly, highlight an important point– influenza vaccine, whether ‘live’ or ‘dead’, is produced in eggs.
A quick PubMed search came up with several different ideas for how to produce a functional flu vaccine using cell-lines. Cell-lines that do not even require serum (animal product). A couple:
These ideas need to move forward.
Not only for the people who medically need alternatives, but to close a loop-hole. There is a non-zero chance that science will lose to religion on the flu vaccine in this legal case. If that happens, a non-egg-based vaccine will close an exploitable avenue for anti-vaxers and religious/philosophical nuts.
* am not a lawyer, I just really like watching Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown and sometimes Judge Alex.