I just looked back on my blog archives to make sure I wasn’t naming this entry the same as the one I did on this subject this time last year and to my amazement find I DID NOT blog about this last year! *gasp* Hold onto your hats, this is a rant two years in the making now…
I work for a healthcare company (which will remain nameless here for my safety) and have for about 4 years. I work in I.T. and have never been in a patient care environment for my job. The first two years when it came time for everyone in America to get their flu shots, I signed a waiver that I wasn’t going to get one. Employees either had to provide proof they got stuck or weigh in that they weren’t planning on it so the company can mark us all off on their little lists. Two years ago, they got smart and offered a ‘permanent waiver’ if you were never going to get a flu shot which would make it easier on the head count every year. I was elated to eliminate the yearly hassle of the waiver.
Then the following year – last year – they decided that everyone was required to get the shot no matter what. So much for a permanent waiver that didn’t even last a year! The only exception being if you had a religious reason – other than the “I am using my free will to choose not to” – or a doctor-verified medical reason not to get it. I was furious! Want to get me motivated? Tell me I can’t do something and I’ll prove you wrong. Want to incite me to violence? Force me do something I don’t want to do.
How did they force us all to comply with this violation of civil rights? By threatening us with suspension and eventual termination if we didn’t succumb to the needle by certain deadlines. I know what you’re thinking – How can they do that?!? Isn’t that discrimination? Isn’t it against some fundamental human and civil right that we have to choose? I’ll tell you how – because Utah is a right to work state which means they can fire me for whatever whim they choose.
Last year I was outraged… and when it came time to march down with the cattle call and get our badges scanned and fill out the paper and sign below the statement that says ‘I am choosing to get this shot even after I’ve been told the risks’, I crossed out the statement I didn’t agree with and signed the paper. The turd from Human Resources refused to accept my paperwork saying the company’s attorneys wouldn’t allow any alteration of the forms. The following dialogue ensued:
Me: “But that means you are asking me to sign something that isn’t true because I don’t have a choice to get the flu shot and I’m not willingly choosing to get it.”
Him: “Of course you have a choice, you don’t have to get the shot.”
Me: “But if I don’t get the shot I get fired.”
Him: “True. But if you choose not to get the shot knowing those are the consequences you still have a choice.”
I looked at him, seething, and couldn’t argue with the logic. If I had the financial means to walk out the door right then and never go back, I would have quit on principle alone. But, alas, I have a family I help provide for that I had to think about. There were many I heard who did walk away from their jobs and I applaud them.
For weeks stories floated around about how people who had claimed an exemption for religious reasons or medical reasons had been denied and still required to get the shots. Apparently a slight allergic reaction wasn’t enough, it had to be a severe allergic reaction. And the religion exemption was even harder to get.
Why am I so against the flu shot? It isn’t the flu shot specifically because I wholeheartedly believe that those who are susceptible to getting the flu or are at risk for other factors should get the flu shot. But I’m not in either of those categories. I have not had the flu in over 20 years. So tell me how a dead virus grown in eggs and gambling that the epidemiologists correctly
guessed picked the way last years virus would mutate to get put in the vaccination when there are hundreds of strains of the flu virus will protect me any better than my amazing immune system already does with a flawless track record. I didn’t even get the H1N1 vaccination when I was pregnant! No, for me this is just a violation of my right to chose what I do and don’t put in my body.
This year I was resigned that I’m still not allergic to eggs – thank GOD since I eat them every day – to get me out of what I knew was looming again. Instead, I did a bunch of research trying to find if there was a religion I could join that would impart me with some tenet I could waive to say forcing me was ‘against my religion’. Me, wanting religion. Ironic, isn’t it? Interestingly enough, I found one! But even that came with a catch…. The Congregation of Universal Wisdom is against basically everything medical because they believe all things are cured by the laying on of hands on the spine. PERFECT! What’s the catch? To join the congregation requires a one-time ‘donation’ of seventy-five dollars. SEVENTY. FIVE. DOLLARS. Oh, and if you require an affidavit of membership with a statement about their stand on immunizations, include an additional fifteen bucks and we will express mail it to you. I wonder how many other people who typed “is there a religion against flu vaccine” in their google search hit on the same page and how long this congregation has been around…
So, what is worse? Being forced to do something you don’t want to do with the threat of losing your job; or being exploited financially by people who cleverly found a very specific niche market of people just like me who are willing to go to great lengths not to be forced into an unwanted immunization? In the end, my pocketbook won over my sense of outrage and my arm still hurts where they stuck me with that damn needle full of flu vaccine which I’m hoping doesn’t mess with my already amazing immune system and isn’t tainted with viral meningitis.