Mandatory Flu Vaccine

So I heard on the radio last night that the flu vaccine is mandatory for health care workers, and that workers who refuse it will be required to wear a mask when in contact with patients. Jeeze.

I got vaccinated about 6 weeks ago, they had a walk-in vaccine clinic set up in the cafeteria. It was convenient enough to overcome my procrastination, and I really don’t want the flu. I had it about 20 years ago– it was awful. Also, I heard that this year’s vaccine is an especially good match for the virus that’s going around, which is hitting hard and fast.

Talking with someone in the health biz, he is insulted by the compulsory nature of the mandate, and thinks his union will oppose it.

I don’t think there is any evidence that wearing a mask will make a flu-carrier less contagious. Handwashing and telling employees to stay home when they are sick would accomplish that. But supplying hand sanitizer, installing handwashing sinks, providing sick days— this costs.

Handing out masks is cheap, and I think the point is to make the non-vaccinated employees look scary. This will provoke resistance.

The unfortunate part of this is that the flu vaccine is a good bet. When you are around a lot of people it’s good to lessen your odds of getting the flu. Health care workers have an additional responsibility. The virus that can put a healthy person out of work for a few days can take the life of someone whose resistance is down. The flu is bad for elderly people, it’s bad for pregnant women.

There are many opportunities to get vaccinated, free clinics for people who don’t have insurance coverage. The flu vaccine is a very low risk and high benefit health measure. You can take your chances with nature, and odds are you will escape getting the flu. But this year thousands of Rhode Islanders will lose that bet, and Mother Nature can be a real bitch.

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