Mike the Mad Biologist

While I think making swine flu vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers is bad policy, since it feeds into anti-vaccine paranoia: people forced to take the vaccine will assume that they are guinea pigs and this, in turn, will lead others to think something is wrong with the vaccine.

Having said that, I’m concerned by the response of Long Island nurses unions–they apparently don’t think the vaccine is unsafe but oppose it anyway. But these reactions by nurses are more troubling (italics mine):

This vaccine has not been clinically tested to the same degree as the regular flu vaccine,” said Tara Accavallo, a registered nurse in Stony Brook’s neonatal intensive care unit, the division that has produced a number of protesters. “If something happens to me, if I get seriously injured from this vaccine, who’s going to help me?”

Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as infectious disease specialists on Long Island say the H1N1 vaccine, which is set to be released early next month, is safe and produces a powerful immune response.

The deadline to comply is Nov. 30, a date so close it leaves little time for legal maneuvers to skirt the law, but Accavallo says she’s willing to lose her job if need be.
connections

Rob Kozik, another registered nurse in Stony Brook’s neonatal intensive care unit, said he has no problems with a seasonal vaccine but he has deep concerns about being immunized against H1N1. “I usually get vaccinated against the flu, but they are mandating an untested and unproven vaccine.

“The H1N1 vaccine already has a poor track record,” he added. “Back in 1976 there was vaccine [to protect against swine flu] that caused death and Guillain-Barre syndrome,” said Kozik, referring to a nerve-damaging disorder that some people linked to the vaccine. He said he also worries about the vaccine additive thimerosal, which is used as a preservative in some doses of the vaccine.

This veers very close to anti-vaxxer territory. It really sounds as if there are some nurses who would not get vaccinated voluntarily. Like I said, if they don’t want to, fine, even if it is irresponsible. But the state should publish a list of which hospitals are not in full compliance, so people with elective procedures can choose other facilities (of course, in some areas, this isn’t possible). If the staff isn’t committed to infection control, then I certainly wouldn’t want to be a patient in that hospital if I could avoid it.

Comments

  1. #1 JohnV
    September 25, 2009

    Only semi related I guess, at my job they give us free (but voluntary) seasonal flu shots. This year they’re not extending that to H1N1. I would think the benefit to my employer of flu shots would be increased if we could get both, especially considering the percentage of employees that are less than 30 years old.

    Oooh age discrimination!

  2. #2 Orac
    September 25, 2009

    This veers very close to anti-vaxxer territory.

    Oh, it does more than that.

  3. #3 Terry
    September 25, 2009

    The nurses unions have sat by silently while our children have been ravaged by unsafe vaccines. Now the shoe’s on the other foot! I’m loving it. Mandatory vaccination for all healthcare professionals (especialy those weasels they call pediatricians)!

  4. #4 MartinDH
    September 25, 2009

    Oh yes, our children have been ravaged by not having experienced the joys of coughing up their lungs until they die, blindness, infertility, and shingles as after effects of measles, rubella and chicken pox. Let’s not mention iron lungs, leg braces and other paraphenalia of polio victims.

    God, you anti-vaxxers make me want to vomit.


    Martin

  5. #5 Polly
    September 25, 2009

    Shingles? Like the kind 8-9 year olds are getting after the wonderful chickenpox vaccine wears off. Oh that’s right, just sell them a booster. Enjoy all the thimerosal you want Martin. You pro-poison pricks make me sick!

  6. #6 JohnV
    September 25, 2009

    By the way, has someone made an anti-vaccine crank bingo card?

  7. #7 NewEnglandBob
    September 25, 2009

    You are the weasel here, Terry, for that inflammatory statement of nonsense. Show us evidence before spewing that garbage.

    Hundreds of millions have been helped by vaccines i the last 50 years and very, very few have been harmed.

    Polly – there is another moron with no proof.

  8. #8 Lil'T
    September 25, 2009

    This is why we should go back to natural medicine. Flax oil, grape seed extract, sour sop, melons, herbs, citrus fruits, honey, bee pollen, echinacea, etc.

    Stick to these things, and your immune system will be strong without the need for a vaccine.

  9. #9 Edward
    September 25, 2009

    Funny – I haven’t heard of any -8-9 year olds getting Shingles as a result of the chickenpox vaccine. Care to provide a reference to back that one up, Polly? Preferably something from a medical journal.

  10. #10 eNeMeE
    September 25, 2009

    Stick to these things, and your immune system will be strong without the need for a vaccine.

    Well, that’s great and all*, but what about those of us who get sicker if our immune systems are too strong? How do I know how much echinacea, herbs, etc. to take to avoid getting sick and also not make myself sicker?

  11. #11 JohnV
    September 25, 2009

    “Stick to these things, and your immune system will be strong without the need for a vaccine.”

    I concur with the above statements. Signed: A life expectancy of 30.

  12. #12 MikeB
    September 25, 2009

    A medical mag here in the UK had an online survey about the vaccine which came out with a similar result. Of course the media didn’t bother to wonder what a self selecting tiny sample asking a question which would tend to appeal to idiots might do to the result, which is why they talked about it a lot. In reality I suspect that nurses in Long Island are way more sensible than the people quoted.

  13. #13 Tiffany
    September 25, 2009

    Medical Journal? Like Pediatrics? Considering that 90% of their revenue comes from vaccine manufacturers, what chance would a paper saying injecting infants with organic mercury is unsafe have to be published? Or how about the studies done by the administraters of this poison published in NEJM or JAMA? Does money matter here?

  14. #14 Anon
    September 25, 2009

    What’s the weather like on your planet, Tiffany?

    One of my best friends from college works for the CDC; he has dedicated his life to helping and saving the lives of others. If what you say was even close to true, this is a man who would risk everything to let people know. Funny thing, he’s trying to increase vaccination rates, and finding it difficult because of ignorant and baseless accusations like yours.

  15. #15 MartinDH
    September 25, 2009

    Polly:
    Don’t forget to compare the rates of hospitalization, death, and disfigurement and degree of pain against those vaccinated (once or twice) and those who don’t get vaccinated and don’t take advantage of the herd immunity.

    BTW Thimerosal is no longer used in children’s vaccine (except flu).

    Anyway, nothing wrong with thimerosal. Since various authorities have stopped its use in vaccines you would have expected the number of children with symptoms attributed to thimerosal to diminish, wouldn’t you? Here’s some news for you…the presence or absence of that compound (and its concentration) has NO EFFECT on said symptoms (I’d cite papers but some numbnutz will say the publications are in the employ of “big pharma”…talkin’ about *you* Tiffany).

    Lil’T:
    What clinical trial type evidence do you have for your statement your list of “natural” substances is more effective than the standard vaccines?

    To anti-vaxxers in general:
    Just be sure to inform the care-givers of every child your children associate with that your children are not vaccinated.

    Here’s hoping that herd immunity prevents the spread of infections before your kids get them…I wouldn’t wish mumps, chicken pox, measles, rubella, whooping cough, polio, diptheria, &c. on any child. You, I don’t care about, but your parents probably vaccinated you so you’re OK.


    Martin

  16. #16 Bob
    September 26, 2009

    Hooray, it’s a parade of selfish, ignorant, freeloading plague rats – here’s to quarantining the lot of you and your unfortunate neglected spawn!

    No amount of evidence, logic, science, medicine, statistics, or history will get through to you denialist cranks. Paranoid of some rare but real risk, you expose yourself and the rest of us to a much larger real harm and have the gall to accuse everyone else of being brainwashed or a pharma shill. You pro-disease loonies need to be shunned like the social lepers you are.

  17. #17 MartinDH
    September 26, 2009

    Bob:
    Well said! I like “freeloading, plague rats”. Rolls off the tongue nicely.


    Martin

  18. #18 NewEnglandBob
    September 26, 2009

    Well said Bob.

    I liked this combination:

    selfish, ignorant, freeloading plague rats and pro-disease loonies

  19. #19 theresa
    September 28, 2009

    I think alot of people miss the point. If you want and beleive in the vaccination by all means get it. Then, according to your own beliefs, you wouldn’t be in danger from un-immunized workers anywhere. If you so strongly approve of the vaccination you should take the risks and whatever benefits that go with them. The main argument is about having a choice. Making decisions about your body based on your own beliefs. To make other people take unknown risks on your behalf is an immoral option.

  20. #20 Stacey C.
    September 28, 2009

    I can’t believe a nurse in a *neonatal ICU* would seriously consider not getting the H1N1 flu shot. I’m not even a parent and that scared the crap out of me. Risking babies lives for your ignorance *should* cause you to lose your job. That seems to me a pretty clear cut dereliction of duty, like anti-choice pharmacists, if you can’t do the job then find a new job.

  21. #21 MartinDH
    September 28, 2009

    Theresa:

    You’re so, so wrong.

    An immunisation shot doesn’t guarantee immunity…it merely reduces susceptibility to a disease. Some people (the majority receiving the vaccine) become 95+% immune. Others may not receive any immunity. However if the majority of the population is immune then, during an outbreak, those that are not immune have a vastly reduced chance of catching that disease.

    Thus, those that do not get vaccinated (but could)* and live among those that have are:
    1) Possible vectors for infection
    2) Protected by the firebreak set up by the vaccinated.

    Hence “free loading” (receiving protection without payment) and “plague rats” (possible infection vectors).

    If you do not wish you and yours to become “freeloading plague rats” and you don’t get vaccinated then you should isolate yourselves at the first hint of a vaccinatable disease in your community. This is so you don’t catch it, and, if you do, so you don’t spread it.

    Please read about herd immunity (an easy to understand article).

    *Some immune deficient patients and organ transplant recipients are among those who legitimately should not be vaccinated.

  22. #22 Terry
    September 28, 2009

    Are all you folks up to date on your 58 injections? If not, why? Why is it that just our children can be used as profit centers. Now go get your Hepititis B, Hepititis A, HIB, polio, HPV, hangnail, rotavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumocockal, Diptheria, tetanus, pertusis, chickenpox, flu, swineflu, menningcoccal, anthrax, small pox, monkey pox, bird flu, SARS. Are you up to date Martin? How about you Orac? How about you Bob? Or are you all “selfish, ignorant, freeloading plague rats and pro-disease loonies”?

  23. #23 Bob
    September 28, 2009

    According to my GP, I’m up to date and I’ve had this year’s flu shot. Thanks for asking.

    A few years ago I actually asked my GP about the flu vaccine situation, back when the main batch had to be destroyed and the remaining vaccine was in short supply. He said it was a financial risk for him; he eats the cost of what he doesn’t use so overbuying is a problem; underbuying means he can’t supply everyone who wants it, demand fluctuates from year to year. My impression was his margin on vaccines made it about break-even in the best case, certainly not a profit center, not for him at least. But I’m sure an expert in medical economics can blow my little anecdote away with the awesome power of solid evidence from credible sources. And, in fact, I’d prefer that, being an evidence-over-anecdote type of guy. I’d relish a reasonable policy debate based on evidence and logic; sadly that’s not likely since the Typhoid Marionettes truck mainly in ad hominems, conspiracy theories, woo, and anecdote. After watching this specific form of denialism for a while, it appears the only effective tactic is to publically shame the antivaxers as freeloading plague rats and have them ostracized as the dangerous cranks they are.

    Regardless, enjoy your unregulated herbal placebos, homeopathic sugar water and other ineffective supplements, stay away from crowds, and keep washing your hands – I hope you stay well for everyone’s sake.

  24. #24 Terry
    September 28, 2009

    Hey Bob, I have no doubt whatsoever that you get a yearly shot of mercury. You get 2 this year! Enjoy your Alzheimers you moron!

  25. #25 Bob
    September 29, 2009

    Do you have any dental work, Terry? Maybe an amalgam filling or two? Eat fish lately? Live near a coal-fired power plant?

    Do you know what the average adult intake of environmental mercury is and how it compares to the gnat-fart’s-worth of thimerosal in flu vaccine? I’ll accept the winnowingly-small risk of the vaccination to reduce my chances of getting and spreading the flu to (among other people) mean-spirited know-nothing lackwits like you.

    Because Terry, unlike you, I let the evidence inform my opinion and my judgment. Science is on my side; epidemiology, biochemistry, public health, history – evidence. You on the other hand have a megaphone and a tinfoil hat.

    So go on, keep happily spouting your “pharma shill” pro-epidemic bullshit and I’ll keep mocking your ignorant ass. Credit your woo for not getting the flu this season (though herd immunity, luck, and increased attention to hygiene will have much more to do with it.) And if you do get sick (which I sincerely hope you don’t, despite you being a miserable flaming douchebag and poor excuse for a human), you’ll no doubt blame it on not taking the right regimen of supplements, mystery herbs, homeopathic sugar pills, and simply not having enough faith in your evidence-free version of ‘medicine.’ I’m certain it won’t have anything to do at all with avoiding this year’s vaccine…

    And if I do manage to get the flu, I’ll chalk it up to an uncertain world, and the percentages. I’ll take cold comfort in knowing that I made my choice based on the best available evidence and understanding of medicine, not some blind faith in someone else’s crackpot theories.

    OT: Seriously – can’t people argue without wishing their opponent be crippled or dead? I know I’m mostly sticking to the low road with the ad hominems and such (and I’ve given my rationale for that) but as much (and as meanly) as I disagree with the plague rats, I don’t wish death, injury, or illness on any of them. It’s kinda creepy, some asshole I’ve never met wishing I get Alzheimer’s. Pretty fucking creepy if you think about it for a while…

  26. #26 Terry
    September 29, 2009

    “Do you have any dental work, Terry?” Yes but no mercury amalgam. I got all the elemental mercury out of my mouth. The American Dental Association are bigger liars than the nicotine addiction/lung cancer conglomerates.

    “Eat fish lately?” Yeah, I eat alot of organic fed and wild caught salmon. Not so much predator fish although 90% of this mercury is defecated from one’s body (unlike the vaccine mercury that is directly injected, via the muscle capillaries, right into the bloodstream).

    “Live near a coal-fired power plant?” Who doesn’t?

    Concentration of mercury in multi-dose vaccine vials = 50,000 ug/l. Concentration of mercury (based on toxicity characteristics) classified as hazardous waste in liquid by the EPA = 200 ug/l. The first statement can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials for mercury.

    Who doesn’t have their facts straight Bob?

  27. #27 JohnV
    September 29, 2009

    @theresa

    “If you want and beleive in the vaccination by all means get it. Then, according to your own beliefs, you wouldn’t be in danger from un-immunized workers anywhere.”

    The real question is, are you that uninformed about vaccination and immunology, or was that just an exercise in strawman-icide?

  28. #28 theresa
    September 29, 2009

    Martin
    Actually, I do understand how and why vaccines are supposed to work. I was over simplifying. My argument has nothing to do with that, If you actually read the post you would understand that.
    It was about allowing certain sectors of our population to assume risks, (actually forcing them to take risks), for your safety.
    The fact that it doesn’t guarantee immunity is a more compelling reason not to get it. The reason older people are not a high risk for swine flu is an aquired natural immunity from previous outbreaks.
    Herd immunity has never actually been studied in reguards to vaccines. It is referenced originally to studies of natural immunity.

    research should go further than the wiki-community.

    http://www.health-article.org/herd-immunity

    Thank you for trying to wiki-inligten me

    Lenin bought russia with bread.
    Hitler bought germany with jobs.
    Whats your price?

  29. #30 JohnV
    September 29, 2009

    So a brief glance through that book suggests that in the last 50 years there’ve been 5 or so vaccine failures? The horrors.

  30. #31 Bob
    September 30, 2009

    Concentration of mercury in multi-dose vaccine vials = 50,000 ug/l. Concentration of mercury (based on toxicity characteristics) classified as hazardous waste in liquid by the EPA = 200 ug/l. The first statement can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials for mercury.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Could you post the sources for these concentrations please? I don’t have any reason to doubt the numbers but I am curious about the context of the EPA figure. For a company discharging thousands or millions of gallons of wastewater a year, a much lower concentration limit than what’s in vaccine might be warranted. Still, concentration is only one part of the story – dose is a function of intake, retention, the chemical form of the material taken in, and a couple other factors. Numbers are nice but they require some context.

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