In other countries, however, the right of healthcare workers to reject vaccination is still respected even in the midst of a localized outbreak of whooping cough where the nurses’ job is to inject newborns with the pertussis vaccine day in and day out.
This exact scenario was described in the Journal Vaccine, which reported that in the summer of 2010, 20 nurses and doctors in the neonatal and OB departments in a large hospital is Haifa, Israel were diagnosed with pertussis.
The Israeli Minister of Health recommended vaccination of all healthcare workers in the affected departments as well as 2 other nearby hospitals. In addition, all the nurses who staffed Mother and Child Healthcare Centers in that district and worked with infants were asked vaccinate themselves.
While pertussis vaccines have been routinely used in pediatric practice for 60 years, an adult pertussis vaccine was only recently developed in 2005 with a single dose recommended by the CDC in 2006.
Three months after the Minister of Health’s directive, it was noted that only 2% of nurses working in the Mother and Child Healthcare Centers had actually vaccinated themselves.
Why such a shocking rate of noncompliance?
This study only recently released online, found that the 98% rate of noncompliance by nurses working with infants in the district where the pertussis outbreak was occurring was due to a very low rate of trust in health authorities particularly following the worldwide H1N1 debacle.
In addition, these nurses did not view themselves as vaccination “role models” for the public and demanded the right to choose whether or not to accept the pertussis vaccination for themselves.
Noncompliant nurses also expressed fear of new vaccines and identified safety issues as a concern which are typically dismissed as invalid and viewed by conventional health authorities as mere “misconceptions”.
The Journal reported that the nurses felt “the risk of contracting the diseases and the severity were not worth the risk of being injected with a vaccine that was not in use long enough to know what the side effects were. This was directed towards both influenza and pertussis vaccines, and they felt the authorities were using them as guinea pigs.”
Many of the nurses also strongly disagreed with the Minister of Health’s recommendation to vaccinate themselves stating that they did not want to be told what to do and wanted to make decisions regarding their body for themselves.
One nurse said:
“what are we?- in Soviet Russia?. . .on principle I am not getting vaccinated this year.”
The conclusion of the study identified a high rate of anti-vaccine sentiment among the nurses and that these attitudes may have indeed played a role in their noncompliance with the Minister of Health’s recommendations.
It was recommended that “additional
lies research and interventions to increase fear trust between nurses and the authorities and propaganda knowledge regarding vaccines is needed.”
It seems that Israeli nurses know their rights and are willing to stand up for their freedoms much more readily than healthcare workers elsewhere in the Western world.
Indeed, for healthcare workers in the United States, Soviet Russia has already arrived with the “vaccinate or it’s your job” mentality although a rare few have had success refusing required jabs by standing on their religious beliefs.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Source: Vaccine 30 (2012) 3151– 3154