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Hospital Workers Branded for Skipping H1N1 Shot

vaccine1Workers at a children’s hospital aren’t being forced to submit to an H1N1 vaccine, so why are they suing the hospital? Because the facility is forcing those who don’t take the shot to wear a mask to protect the sick children from possible contamination.

A rep for the nurse’s union at the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego told 10 News it’s like a scarlet letter that they’re being forced to wear.

The nurses have been told they need to get the shot – or else suffer what amounts to a public branding. They must wear masks and a color-coded tag. The masks scare parents, the union rep says, by making them look like they’re contagious – whether they are or not.

It’s hardly the first hospital to face a revolt from healthcare workers over the shot. New York State went so far as to tell healthcare workers they’d lose their jobs if they didn’t take the shot – an edict lifted when state health officials realized it simply couldn’t be enforced with the limited supply of vaccine.

The folks in California aren’t being kicked out of a job over it, however. They’re being told they can’t breathe on sick kids unless they’re free of germs.

And is that such a bad thing?

They are, after all, in a healthcare facility, not out in public. These staffers have both chosen to work there and chosen not to take advantage of the vaccine. Meanwhile they’re working with what the CDC would term the most at risk group in the country for infection – children with compromised immune systems.

The nurse’s union’s biggest complaint – that they aren’t automatically contagious without the shot – does hold water. Unfortunately, the contagion period of H1N1 begins a day BEFORE people show symptoms. So a nurse who think he’s perfectly healthy can transmit the disease unwittingly.  The CDC recommends people in healthcare settings caring for people at high risk (including kids) ask for temporary re-assignment if they think they might spread the swine flu.

It’s their right to say no to the shot. But isn’t it the children’s right to be cared for in a hospital by someone who won’t make them sicker?

Image: alvi2047 via flickr

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