If a vegan kills me I swear to god…

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.
A Christian vegan. Oh Christ. That is rich. RICH. When I first heard of this case, I assumed the plantiff was Buddhist or something, but Christian? I genuinely LOLed at this.

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.

Which means there are people who have genuine egg allergies who would LOVE to get the flu vaccine, but cannot.

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:

Production of Inactivated Influenza H5N1 Vaccines from MDCK Cells in Serum-Free Medium

Live attenuated influenza viruses produced in a suspension process with avian AGE1.CR.pIX cells

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.

Comments

  1. #1 I Am Here
    January 16, 2013

    Actually, parents may not refuse life-saving medical treatment for minor children. Courts have consistently held that you cannot as a parent make that decision.

  2. #2 david
    January 16, 2013

    In a case in the UK, a ‘christian’ worker for Relate – an institution that deals with marriage guidance / therapy for couples, refused to give sex advice to homosexuals and was fired. They lost thier case in the European courts.

    It was quite plain that if you are of a religious persausioin, you have to read properly what your job entails, and obviously, dont do it if you object to some parts of it on ANY grounds.

    Now you could have refused the jab becasue you felt actually you didnt like needles and thought you could “get away” with that part of the job description. Hopefully the law will see likewise that so called religious reasons are no different – if you wont comply with the regulations – for whatever reasons you are in breech of contract and can be fired. Why people think they have a god given right to get out of things they have signed up to I have no idea.

  3. #3 Kemanorel
    January 16, 2013

    @I Am Here

    I think there’s an exception for religious reasons, because I know JW kids can be refused blood transfusion because of the parent’s religion.

    There’s also no way to refuse treatment if the child is never taken to the doctor in the first place.

    At least in the US laws change from state to state on that issue, but in the few cases I’ve seen where parents end up killing their kid because they believe in faith healing and the kid dies of diabetes or something, the parents generally get off with incredibly light sentences… I know in one case the parents got manslaughter and only went to jail for 3-5 years…

    Even if they don’t completely get away with it, religion allows them to have much less consequences. Leave your kid in a dumpster? Murder. Let your kid die a slow, painful death by untreated eczema? Manslaughter.

    The system needs updating.

  4. #4 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 16, 2013

    Which means there are people who have genuine egg allergies who would LOVE to get the flu vaccine, but cannot.

    You rang?

  5. #5 Bob of QF
    January 16, 2013

    I am gratified to see that someone is working on non-egg vaccines; I’d take them in an instant, even if they cost me cash-money.

    Interesting non-argument from the anti-vaxxers, though. Creative, I’ll admit, but not really ethical.

    But religious folk are seldom ethical when the practice of their religion is on the line, are they?

  6. #6 Randy
    January 16, 2013

    “… it’s totally legal for you to kill yourself …”

    I think you’re exercising hyperbole here (“kill yourself”) , to emphasize the possible, but not likely, outcome of non-vaccination. And I agree with your overall view. But of course people should be allowed to actually kill themselves (and only themselves, in the process) for any reason.

  7. #7 Bryan
    January 17, 2013

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/777773

    Flublok, flu vaccine via recombinant tech, no eggs involved, FDA approved.

  8. #8 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 17, 2013

    Wait, when did this happen?! Oh, yesterday; no wonder I didn’t know.

    About fucking time.

  9. #9 Maritza
    January 25, 2013

    I haven’t gotten a flu vaccine in years, not once have a caught the flu, why is that? I see people running to get shots every year who end up feeling like shit for days!

  10. #10 Julian Frost
    January 28, 2013

    @Maritza:

    I haven’t gotten a flu vaccine in years, not once have a caught the flu, why is that?

    Luck. Whenever I’ve got my flu shots I’ve avoided the flu. Also, several years when I didn’t get jabbed I got the flu.
    Just because you were lucky doesn’t mean that your insinuation that the flu shot doesn’t work is correct, it means you were lucky.

  11. #11 Imogen
    February 1, 2013

    The only people they’ll be killing is themselves and others who refuse to get vaccinated. It’s a bit unfair to blame *them* for getting sick due to not getting vaccinated and then getting *you* sick… I mean, it’s also your own fault you didn’t get vaccinated, right, just like you can blame them… am I missing something very obvious here?

  12. #12 Imogen
    February 1, 2013

    Don’t kill me. If you think I’m being stupid/unreasonable, you can always simply refute my comment.. heh heh.

  13. #13 gngl
    March 8, 2013

    “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.”

    I sincerely hope that she diligently spits out the discarded cells from the inner lining of her mouth instead of swallowing them.

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