Sunday, October 4, 2009

OPINION: Don't force medical pros to get H1N1 vaccine

The following article is one that everyone should read - especially those who feel that it is just fine and dandy to force others to do something their own research has shown them may put their own or their family's lives and health at risk.


The New York State Health Commissioner's new mandate that all health care workers be vaccinated against both the seasonal and the swine flu this fall could qualify as the major public health blunder of the year, because it is likely to backfire.

Flu has been rightly characterized as a "slippery disease" that can mutate quickly and unpredictably, which means that planning for flu epidemics must be flexible and should be reviewed regularly as evidence of disease spread and severity accumulates.

We are already experiencing the beginning of a second wave of swine flu, the 2009 H1N1 influenza. Effective response will require cooperation of the public, and such cooperation (in actions such as getting vaccinated, social distancing and staying home when sick) will happen only if the public trusts its health officials.

Surveys have noted an erosion in public trust of government officials, but continued confidence in physicians and nurses. In this context, persuasion based on science, ethics and prudence, not on legal threats, should be the mandatory course of action for public health officials.

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