How Ready Are You To Give Up Your Rights?

By now, everyone has heard about this new H1N1 virus that the United States is trying hard to encourage people to take. What many folks don’t know, unless they live in New York, is that the health commissioner of this state has determined that every health care worker who has any patient contact must take the shot. It’s the only state in the nation that’s made the shot mandatory; even the federal government didn’t make it mandatory for anyone except military personnel. What they’ve done that’s sneaky is not told hospitals what they should do about those employees who won’t take the shot. This way, it absolves them of any responsibility if hospitals fire employees, which is pretty much what’s going to happen.

My wife works at one of the hospitals in this area, and it’s being very aggressive in trying to get people to take the shot. They’ve gone above and beyond in trying to comply with the state mandate. They’ve decided that everyone who works at the hospital has to take the shot, even people who don’t work directly in the hospital and never see patients. They’re sending out daily notices to those people who they see haven’t taken the shot yet, and are sending daily emails out to other people with a list of names of people who haven’t taken the shot and asking them to encourage these other people to take the shot. Also, the employee health doctor at this hospital isn’t just accepting the letters that some doctors are filling out saying their patients shouldn’t take the shot. He’s asking inappropriate questions, then telling some of these people that they have to take the shot or else they will be fired.

Oh yeah, there’s two other things I need to mention here. One, the federal government has absolved the maker of this drug from being allowed to be sued if anyone gets violently ill and passes away, and since you can’t sue the federal government, it seems somewhat suspect. And two, my wife’s hospital, though trying to force everyone to take this shot, is also making them sign a piece of paper absolving them of any liability if people get sick from being forced to take it. Once again, that’s pretty sneaky.

These last two, by the way, are a violation of patient’s rights. Telling everyone else in the hospital who hasn’t taken a shot is not only a HIPAA violation, but it’s an employment violation, since it basically tells everyone else who might be on the list to be fired, which isn’t anyone else’s business. And forcing people to do something against what their doctors have recommended is a violation of privacy, since even employee health doesn’t have the right to override what a patient’s physician has said, whether they’re a physician or not.

This issue has brought up a very interesting conversation in this state. People who aren’t in health care are saying “why don’t they just take the shot.” They see it as “if the state says they should take it, then they should take it and protect us from them.” Sorry, but life just isn’t that straight forward.

Many years ago, when states across the country began instituting the seat belt law, I remember telling some friends of mine that this was only the first step, and that there were going to be a lot more punitive laws coming after this one. They laughed at me at the time, saying I was being paranoid. I’ve always worn my seat belt, and even though I believe everyone should wear one, I’ve always believed that people should have the right to do whatever they feel like doing in something they paid for.

Now, here we are, and we have helmet laws for not only motorcycles, but for bicycles. We have smoking laws all over the place. We have cell phone laws, and many states are looking to ban cell phones in cars altogether. We have more and more locales installing hidden cameras to catch us speeding or going through stop signs without completely stopping. There are rules for how you have to dress when you’re in the car. And, going further, we now have all these punitive laws going against kids for being kids, even at ages as young as 5 years old, and mandatory suspensions for some of the stupidest stuff you’ve ever heard of.

In other words, we’ve given up our rights of self determination. I will honestly say that some of those laws above I’m happy for, but I still have somewhat of a problem with them. I believe that when one passes a law that’s for the good of a group of people, such as outlawing smoking in restaurants because one smoker pretty much impacts a single room, as well as forces employees to deal with things such as second hand smoke, which could give them lung cancer at a later time in life, that it’s a much different thing than talking to someone on a cell phone. I might be wrong about that, but it’s how I feel.

But let’s come back to these H1N1 shots. Hospitals have never forced any of their employees to get a regular flu shot. As much as the World Health Organization wants to push this thing as a pandemic, there are still more people getting the regular flu than the Swine Flu, and more people around the world dying because of the regular flu than the Swine Flu. That’s issue number one.

Issue number two, who decides that you have to be forced into getting a shot in the first place? Shots are invasive; we all should have the right to decide if we want invasive procedures done on our bodies. This flu shot concoction is new; many doctors are saying it’s safe, but it really hasn’t been tested. They said the same thing in 1976; not many people remember that one. Many doctors are also saying that other shots are mandatory and that workers have never complained about that. Actually, though it’s true now, it’s not true at the time these shots were created and workers were encouraged to take them. That, plus let’s see, how many people had been killed by a proven deadly disease called smallpox before there was a vaccine that was allowed to be distributed?

Everyone has a point at which they’ll acknowledge that they feel their rights are being violated. The funny thing is that they never see it as being an issue for anyone else until they’re personally impacted by it. Well, I’m lucky in being a consultant; I’m not taking the shot. I’ve taken two flu shots in my life, and got sick for 4 months both times; that’s not happening again. As it is, with this shot, though some of these TV doctors are saying it’s safe, some health care workers have gotten really sick behind it, and have been out of work for up to two weeks. Shouldn’t that be a choice the potential recipient deserves to make for themselves as to whether they want to be put through that or not? And, as I said, no one can be sued for forcing it; how fair is that?

As I asked up front, how ready are you to give up your rights? I’d really like to know.

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25 comments on “How Ready Are You To Give Up Your Rights?

  • Steve | Trade Show Guru says:

    hi Mitch,
    Great post. I tend to agree with you. I see the benefit of trying to keep health workers from spreading the flu to patients that could die from it, but why not force the regular flu shot as well…
    It seems an over-reaction to me, and I do think we are seeing an erosion of personal rights in this country. Steve
    PS. You will note I am following your new rule!
    PS. I got the regular flu shot, but I’m not getting the swine flu shot.
    .-= Steve | Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..Are Trade Shows Obsolete? =-.

    • Steve, I thank you for following the new rules. I think I’m probably going to have to make it a page so it remains at the top somehow.

      Today there was an initial hearing on the class action lawsuit. The state is arguing that the public good overrides personal freedoms. The judge didn’t lift the mandatory shots, but said she’d entertain more discussion on it next week. However, from what I’m hearing, other hospitals in other states are making the shot mandatory and firing people who aren’t getting it. I mean, talk about one’s personal liberties being taken away. These organizations are going to make me a union supporter yet. lol

  • This is a really sticky issue for me. On the one hand, I understand the need to keep the public safe from the swine flu. However, I think mandatory shots are a bit extreme. There should be a happy medium somewhere.
    .-= DeAnna Troupe´s last blog ..Blog Action Day 2009-Climate Change =-.

    • Thanks for your comment, DeAnna. I think the state has jumped the gun on this one, since the Feds haven’t even gone to this extreme, and that’s the main gripe here.

  • Thanks for the incite Mitch,

    I have been alive long enough to have seen the seat belt laws and the birth of MAD, since I lived most of my life in Western Massachusetts and Mad started in Greenfield MA, for good reason I may add.

    Any way there are some good points you bring up, the most upsetting of them is the liability exemption. That to me says stay away these people are going to try and kill us all with the blessing of the government.

    I am going to refer everyone to my link above, not to be a spammer but for good information’s sake. I have a solution that has been around like forever. Back years ago there was very little refrigeration, one of the things people did to prolong the life of milk was to but a silver dollar in the container. The silver would kill of any living things that may spoil the milk. Silver works with Bacteria as well as viruses. Very powerful but extremely useful information that has been kept under wraps by the very people that we hire to look after our well being.

    I totally encourage you to spread the word, the link and do a little more research on the subject. I don’t get sick.

    Thanks for the great post, we need more people like you with a voice!
    Brad West ~ onomoney

    • Thanks for your comment, Brad. I even thought of something else today. NY state talks about the greater good in trying to make health care workers take the shot (a judge put a 2-week moratorium on the law today), but the truth is that the virus is being spread in other places than in hospitals. If they’re so concerned about the greater good, then they should have imposed it on every restaurant worker and people working in grocery stores, since all of those people see and touch way more people on a daily basis than health care workers do. Do that, then wait for the real screaming to begin.

      • That says allot about the total influence that the government Big Pharma and the Oil people have over letting the truth be known!

        Thanks for the link, and keep your eyes open for more about Burgermeister and Horowitz.

        Brad West ~ onomoney
        .-= Brad West´s last blog ..Trying Out Twitter Feed for the Forum =-.

  • That is a great point Mich,

    I guess the state could start threatening to pull all state issued licenses like the ones for restaurants, bars, grocery stores and make all of them to comply if they wanted. I am glad there is at least two weeks to get something accomplished.

    Have you heard any more about Len Horowitz – Pandemic Charges Filed With FBI In NYC?

    I started a post on the forum, but haven’t seen anything to follow up with. Again the link is above. Love to get some more info on this.

    Thanks Brad West ~ onomoney

    • Hey Brad,

      I haven’t seen anything new myself, but this story caught my eye:

      And the main issue that the unions got the stay on was that the health commissioner overstepped his bounds because he doesn’t have the authority. Supposedly it rests with the state legislature. So, it’s an interesting point, and we’ll have to see where it goes.

  • Hi Mitch, I’ve taken the flu shot for the last five years and haven’t had the flu yet and never had any side effects from the shot. With that said, it’s my choice. I would never force anyone else to get it.

    I do have mixed feeling on the subject. On one hand I do believe, like Steve said, that the swine flu is an over-reaction. I also believe, like you mentioned, the vaccination is new and hasn’t been tested enough. That means it’s in the beta stage for a geek like me. To force anyone to take it should be illegal. In fact, someone should be in jail right now. The whole liability exclusion thing makes me sick. Michigan did that with the pharmaceutical companies and it’s just unconscionable.

    On the other hand, the people that do get sick, with anything contagious, and still go to work, school or out in public should be subject to legal action as well.

    Everyone should take great pause whenever the government starts getting involved. There’s not too much they have touched that hasn’t turned into an expensive and intrusive disaster.

    Great subject and very controversial, which makes it fantastic blogging content 😉

    • Good comments, Brian. I will disagree with you on one point, but you’ll see why. The point about people who get sick and still go to work is a good one, but unfortunately, if most of those people don’t go to work then it causes a problem with their employer. For instance, my wife works at a hospital. They would expect her to show up, be evaluated, then be sent home. Now, of course she could take a day to call in, but hospitals get weird with stuff like that. Other employers are the same at times; it’s a terrible way to run a business.

      And, just to mention this, I never took a day off from work until I got married; isn’t that a shame? And I got married when I was 37, so that’s a long time. It was the first vacation I ever took. I’d do it differently now, but since I work for myself, it’s not much of an issue with myself. That, and, luckily, I rarely get that ill.

  • Mitch, I’ve never taken a flu shot, but have considered it.

    Over here the rather than making it mandatory, the Government has made it free and has commercials out recommending people, especially health care workers to have the shot.

    I can understand the reasoning behind health care workers taking it over those working in restaurants etc, as they come into contact with people more susceptible to dying from exposure to the virus.

    As to hospitals firing people for not taking it, well it seems that this is when the unions should be stepping in, especially as the government hasn’t stipulated what should happen to people who refuse to take the shot.

    Personally, if I was working in a hospital where I was at risk of getting the flu, I reckon I would actually pay to have the shot.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..The Horror Trip To Melbourne And Back =-.

    • Sire, here’s a couple of things.

      One, yes, health care workers are exposed to a lot of things, but the mandatory shot isn’t because they’re exposed, but because the health department said they’d be exposing others. The thing is sick people come in all the time; who’s exposing who?

      Two, if you’ve never taken the flu shot you don’t know how it can make you feel. I took it two years in a row, 1990 and 1991, and got sick for 4 months both times. What the flu shot does is inject some of the flu in you, and it’s supposed to build up your antibodies so you can fight off ONLY that particular strain of flu. If there’s a second strain, and there usually is, you’re still going to get sick. But if you’re going to get sick for a long time, the shot isn’t all that much better than just getting the flu.

      Three, you’re right, you’d have thought the unions would have stepped in. Most of them didn’t, but a couple of big ones finally did. As of Thursday night, the mandatory shots in New York State was ended, not because, so they say, of the lawsuit, but because there’s not close to enough H1N1 vaccine to go around, and there’s no way everyone can get it anyway. Supposedly NY state is only getting 23% of its allotment, so they want to save it for those people most at risk, pregnant women and children.

      So, there you go. By the way, you don’t pay for these shots; no one is paying for them. Well, that’s not quite accurate. If you go certain places, you might have to pay for an administrative fee. Otherwise, it’s free. Good to have you back!

      • I’m only partly back Mitch. I won’t be if full blogging mode for quite awhile I reckon, so I’ll just post when I can.

        I’ve just watched a news broadcast showing all you Yanks lining up for flu shots and many complaining there ain’t enough going around. Strange world we live in 😉

        Anyway, as to the healthcare workers, my take is that they don’t want them to get sick, rather than them passing it on. After all, once you’re sick you don’t go to work. At least that’s how it works here.
        .-= Sire´s last blog ..$20 Million Dollar Halloween Superdraw =-.

      • It might be the case, Sire, but in the United States, people are supposed to be given the rights to choose whether they want invasive procedures done to their bodies or not. Even the governor of our state, the guy who just ended the mandatory shot thing, said it probably wasn’t fair to put people’s jobs on the line if they decided they didn’t want to get the shot.

        Yeah, people are clamoring for these shots, and I think the media has fanned the flame in a big way on this one. I’m still not getting the shot; I’ll take my chances.

      • What if you consider the Government as parents and the populace as children. If some of the kids are too stupid to think for themselves shouldn’t the government step in and do their thinking for them?

        As parents we sometimes force certain things on our children because we know they will be better off for it, although there are times when we have to drag them kicking and screaming to get it done.
        .-= Sire´s last blog ..How To Turn Off The Internet On The iPhone =-.

      • Sire, I’m really surprised to see you saying something like this, knowing how much you hate your own PM.

        In America, we know that it’s the people who are supposed to have the power because we elect these people to support our wishes. They’re not supposed to really know more than us; they’re supposed to inform us of stuff and let us make up our own minds. Sure, there are some laws they pass that are for the greater good, but if we don’t like those laws then we have the opportunity to vote those folks out of office.

        In this particular case, the guy who established this thing, which has sense been ended, wasn’t an elected official, and that was our main gripe. He shouldn’t have had the authority to be allowed to do what he did. We elect our sheriffs most of the time, so they can lead the police. That’s what it’s all supposed to be about.

        That, plus we’re not children, and I personally will never accept the government, or any government, as my parent.

      • It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the word “dork” anywhere. lol And you’re probably correct on what they’re thinking, but they should know better. However, NY state isn’t above doing things that aren’t right, with folks who weren’t elected and also get to remain anonymous. We really need to change that.

      • That’s the good thing about living in a democracy, we are able to change things and stand up for out rights. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • This is a really sticky issue for me. On the one hand, I understand the need to keep the public safe from the swine flu. However, I think mandatory shots are a bit extreme. I would be furious if I was forced to get one.

    • And I think that’s really the point, Trista. If people take jobs where they know there’s going to be mandatory shots because of what they do, that’s one thing. But having something suddenly thrown onto you, where there’s not only no guarantee that it’s going to work but that could have some potential problems, and making it so immediate,… nope, that just can’t happen.

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