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Guest column: Influenza vaccination should never be made compulsory

DANIEL O'ROARK • Mar 23, 2013 at 7:17 AM

That mandatory vaccination programs for health care workers (HCW) are rapidly sweeping the nation is further evidence of a society in serious decline.

The gradual and widespread erosion of rational and logical thought processes has rendered the populace susceptible to manipulation, thus leading to our current (and yearly) “influenza hysteria” and the absurdity known as mandatory vaccination of HCW.

Before presenting a sampling of the evidence against obligatory flu vaccination for HCW, it is important to plainly state that this short missive is not an anti-vaccination screed, meant to discourage anyone from taking the vaccine voluntarily should they so desire, or a statement that the vaccination is completely ineffective. Nor is it in any way against efforts to enhance the safety and well-being of our patients, or efforts to develop safe, effective novel influenza vaccines for voluntary utilization only, and always with proper informed consent procedures.

Following are a few random observations, based on an extensive review of the medical literature regarding influenza and its vaccine, proving why influenza vaccination should never be made compulsory:

• Until very recently, it has been considered completely unethical to mandate medical treatments of any kind for competent persons capable of giving voluntary, informed consent (or from their legally designated surrogate if a minor or mentally incompetent). This is so because all medical treatments expose the recipient to varying degrees of risk.

While very rare, some complications of influenza vaccine have the potential to cause death or disability (anaphylaxis, Guillian-Barré syndrome). Compulsory flu vaccination protocols should have been stopped in their tracks on this basis alone.

• Influenza (a disease) is erroneously equated with influenza-like illness (ILI — a syndrome: a collection of symptoms or signs). ILI has been associated with approximately 200 different viruses in addition to influenza A/B. Both influenza and ILI are indistinguishable by symptoms alone and may rarely cause serious complications; the latter (ILI) is much more common than the former (yearly incidence one percent versus seven percent, respectively).

In the vast majority of those afflicted, both are benign and self-limited. Death is rare and almost exclusively occurs in the chronically ill or extremely elderly.

• Between 3,000-49,000 people die of flu every year; 90 percent of these deaths occur in the elderly to extremely elderly — most of them also having other serious medical problems. The number of yearly “all-cause” deaths in the U.S. is 2.4 million.

• Most influenza vaccine research has been shown (by recent, landmark studies that have “researched the research”) to be of very poor quality and substantially prone to bias and is, therefore, unreliable in support of the conclusions drawn by vaccine advocates.

• The few, high quality research studies that are available reveal:

* 100 people need to be vaccinated to prevent one case of the flu during typical flu seasons where the vaccine and the virus only partially match.

* During most typical flu seasons, about 99 per 100 persons vaccinated receive it to zero benefit.

* There is no evidence the vaccine prevents the spread of flu or secondarily benefits patients when HCW or anyone else is vaccinated.

* There is no evidence that asymptomatic HCW (whether vaccinated or not) can “give” patients the flu unless they fail to wash their hands or practice poor cough-sneeze hygiene.

* There is no evidence that asymptomatic mask wearing HCW protect patients from contracting acute respiratory illnesses. It is very likely that a mask mandate represents a profound HIPPA violation, as an article of clothing (the mask) reveals to the public the wearer’s private health care information regarding their flu vaccination status.

• Vaccine advocates (including CDC) and their writings are highly biased, are prone to substantial conflicts of interest, frequently misrepresent data to their own end, significantly exaggerate the prevalence and risks of influenza and commit multiple logical fallacies in their conclusions.

• Hospitals, through quality assurance programs, can receive extra money from the government if certain numbers of HCW are vaccinated.

• Influenza vaccine is a multi-billion dollar industry — every year.

• That HCW are being threatened with job loss over flu shot policies that are based on pseudo-science and coercion is nothing short of scandalous.

• If society accepts the notion that third parties (which now include various governing bodies) can force medical treatments on individuals without their voluntary consent, we risk being subjected to almost anything in the future — and probably will be. History has borne this out.

Daniel O’Roark, DO, FACC, is a cardiologist at Wellmont-CVA Heart Institute, Kingsport.

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