Receive The Flu Vaccine Or Lose Your Job: Minnesota Doctors And Nurses Choose To Lose Job To Avoid Flu Shot

Source: Vaccine Impact


After 30 years of providing medical care in Pine River, Minnesota, Dr. David Laposky was let go from the Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center Clinic in Pine River over his decision not to comply with a new mandatory flu shot policy. Image source.

by Christina England
Health Impact News

Health care workers working for Essentia Health in Minnesota received an extra Christmas bonus this year. They were given an ultimatum, to either receive the flu vaccine this year or lose their job. Although many of them chose to receive the vaccination without hesitation, others refused, and true to their word, their employers terminated their contracts.

According to recent reports, a number of medical professionals have had their employment terminated by Essentia Health after they refused the now mandated flu vaccination.

However, the "bully boy tactics" used by Essentia Health to force-vaccinate their employees may have backfired, as their decision has angered the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), who have decided to take action.

The MNA has decided that enough is enough and have filed grievances against Essentia Health in a bid to win back the jobs and wages of every single registered nurse fired for not participating in their mandatory flu shot policy.

In an article titled MNA Nurses Will Battle Essentia Health Over Flu Shot Firings, the MNA stated that:

"Nurses continue to oppose the mandatory flu shot policy for many reasons.  Voluntary programs have been shown to easily increase participation; such policies often do not take into account employees' religious or moral convictions; and healthcare workers are often disciplined for using sick time within a period of time – even if the sick time is a result to an adverse flu shot reaction."

They continued:

"Essentia has told nurses they will be terminated on November 20, and more will be fired when their exemption paperwork is rejected. Nurses have filed for exemptions on religious and medical grounds but expect very few, if any, to be honored."

Interestingly, the MNA reported that:

"The Minnesota Department of Health is on the record that there is no evidence to suggest that healthcare systems mandating flu shots see a significant reduction in influenza cases in their facilities."

The fact that the Minnesota Department of Health have seen no significant reduction in the number of cases of flu in their facilities makes a mockery of Essentia's decision to reinforce a flu vaccine mandate.

They are not the only organization to report that the vaccine is useless, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also reported that the vaccine is ineffective.

In 2013, a meta-analysis study published by the CDC revealed that flu vaccinations among healthcare workers offered no evidence of protection to the patients under their care!

In other words, mandatory flu vaccinations of healthcare workers will continue, in spite of the lack of evidence that they protect patients.

Nurses Were Not the Only Health Care Workers Targeted

According to reports, nurses were not the only health care workers who were targeted. In an exclusive interview, Dr. David Laposky told reporters how his employment was terminated after 30 years of loyal service working for St. Joseph's Medical Center Clinic in Pine River, Minnesota. He stated that:

"I had several partners here and then ended up on my own for a couple years after they all left. Then I needed some help and asked the hospital to come in. They bought me out, and that's how we became more of the Essentia clinic. (In) 1995 I think they bought the clinic from us."

He continued:

"I always said I could work to 70, I just turned 60, but I was thinking probably another 10 years in some form of work. I fully expected to finish my career in Pine River. I love the town and the staff. We had a wonderful work setting there."

In a report for Pineandlakes Echo Journal, Laposky explained that:

"I had my own political reasons why I have not taken the flu vaccine the last six or seven years now, as I do the research on it and I see the efficacy rate being so low."

He continued:

"I think the average efficacy rate for the last 13 years is about 36 percent."

However, Essentia's infectious disease physician and chief of patient quality and safety, Dr. Rajesh Prabhu, disagreed and made it abundantly clear that the flu vaccine was necessary.

Speaking out about the flu vaccine's safety and efficacy, he told reporters that, while the flu vaccine is not perfect, some years, it can still be over 50 percent effective and that, in his opinion, some prevention is better than no prevention.

While this opinion may be true, this could also mean that even after receiving the vaccine, 50 percent of his staff could still remain unprotected and be a potential risk to patients.

Essentia Fires Employees for not Complying with Flu Shot Policy

Essentia Health Lays Off 69 Staff at Christmastime

Adamant that their policy of mandating the flu vaccine is correct, Essentia Health is reported to have terminated the employment of 69 members of their staff this Christmas season. Fox News, who have reported daily updates on the story, wrote:

"A Minnesota-based health care company reportedly fired 69 employees who failed to comply with its flu shot mandate by the Nov. 10 deadline."

In a statement for Fox 9, Mr. Steve Strand, co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit, stated that:

 "We tried to sit down with management, but Essentia executives told us they intend to follow through with terminations and mandatory flu shots regardless."

It is clear that Essentia Health is not interested in anything that their workers have to say on the issue.

Ms. Sharon Beaulieu, a medical records clerk, was one the employees sacked by the company, and she told the Daily Mail that:

"It's never been about the vaccine, I just don't feel that anyone has a right to tell me what to inject into my body or not, that's what it boiled down to for me."

She could have a point, and if Essentia's policy to mandate the vaccine was put in place to protect the patients, then Beaulieu's case makes a mockery of their decision.

According to the Mail, Beaulieu works in one of Essentia's non-medical warehouse facilities in West Duluth, Minnesota, and has absolutely no contact with patients.

This leaves us to question whether or not there is another reason why Essentia wants all their employees to be vaccinated with a vaccine, which, they themselves admit, is not perfect.

Why Are Health Care Facilities Mandating the Flu Vaccine?

In an article titled The Truth Behind Flu Shot Mandates for Healthcare Workers, founder of the Children's Medical Safety Research Institute, Ms. Claire Dwoskin, explained the reason why she believes that flu vaccination is being mandated for health workers. She wrote:

"Dr. Nass discovered that the Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) established by Medicare and organizations like the National Quality Forum, a federally established, public-private health quality assessment organization are created for the purpose of enforcing policies that are selected as "quality improvement" measures, whether or not they improve care or lower costs. They are surrogate measures that can then be used to get institutions to either comply or lose millions of dollars in reimbursements (up to 4% of acute care hospitals' total Medicare reimbursements).

The more employees and patients vaccinated, the higher the reimbursement rate."

This certainly makes sense and may well be the reason behind Essentia's decision.

Dwoskin continued:

"In a recent article, Dr. Nass described the complaint and resulting settlement of seven health care workers in Erie, PA who were fired for refusing flu vaccines for religious reasons. They won an EEOC settlement of $300,000 which requires them to be reinstated and receive back pay and compensatory damages for alleged religious discrimination."

With this being the case, there is a good chance that the grievances that were recently filed by the MNA will also be successful.

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