Forcing Flu Shots on Health Care Workers: Who Is Next?

By Barbara Loe Fisher

Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are ordering all employees to get a flu shot every year or be sent home for two weeks without pay to “think about it.” Anyone, who still refuses to get a flu shot after that, is fired.1

60 percent of all U.S. health care professionals don’t want to get an annual flu shot,2 which matches the number of Americans, who choose not to get a flu shot, even in pandemic years.3, 4 Surveys reveal that health care providers know that influenza vaccine can cause nasty, unexpected side effects for some people, like paralysis5 and convulsions.6

Not Just Doctors & Nurses: Everyone

But that has not stopped medical organizations from launching a national crusade to force everyone employed in a “healthcare setting” to get a flu shot every year, whether they have direct contact with patients or not.7, 8 That’s right. Not just doctors and nurses, but every single person who has anything to do with the health care facility, including students, volunteers, and contract workers. An exception could be made if the doctors in charge approve a “medical exemption” to vaccination, which, today, is about as hard to get as a job.

It is not a pretty sight to watch doctors acting more like thugs than healers. When doctors threaten people with financial ruin for refusing to shut up and salute smartly, there is something wrong.

Trust is replaced with fear and anger. People start asking questions. Questions like: Who will be threatened and punished next for refusing a flu shot?

The answer is YOU, me, and every American. We are next in line because when doctors trade in their white coats for military uniforms, going after their own is just the first step on the road to going after the rest of us. If this latest power grab is allowed to set precedent in America, the only question in the future will be: how many vaccines will we be forced to take or lose our jobs, our health insurance, our right to enter a hospital, or receive medical care, or get on a plane, or check into a hotel if we can’t prove we have gotten vaccinated?

1905 U.S. Supreme Court Sets Up Vaccine Pushing & Profit-Making

Vaccine mandates are nothing new in America. After smallpox outbreaks disfigured or killed up to one third of those infected during the 17th and 18th centuries, in 1905 the U.S. Supreme Court gave permission to states to pass laws requiring smallpox vaccination.9 Since then, that precedent setting Supreme Court case, Jacobsen v Massachusetts, has become a kind of holy scripture for public health officials, who have used it to persuade state legislators to pass a whole slew of new vaccine laws barring children from going to school unless they prove they have been injected with dozens of doses of vaccines for infectious diseases that do not come close to being as deadly or contagious as smallpox.10

So, even though the 1905 Supreme Court legal opinion was about Americans getting one or two smallpox vaccinations, since then it has been used by doctors to wage an evangelistic crusade to smack down all microorganisms associated with infectious disease by calling on 300 million Americans to be injected with multiple vaccines from day of birth to year of death.11, 12 This, of course, has created a lucrative boondoggle for pharmaceutical corporations seeking a guaranteed, liability-free market for every new vaccine licensed and sold in America, the third largest nation in the world, which helps these companies finance and develop huge global markets as well.13 , 14 In 2009 alone, multi-national corporations took home profits of $2.8 billion dollars in influenza vaccine sales.15

What most people don’t realize is that those long dead US Supreme Court judges used a pseudo ethic, utilitarianism, to justify their legal opinion that vaccination should be forced in America. Utilitarianism, which argues that an action is moral if it results in the “greatest good for the greatest number of people,” was quite popular at the turn of the 20th century.16

The cruel reality of what can happen to individuals when utilitarianism is used to prop up public health policy was brought home in 1927, when US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes used the Jacobsen vs. Massachusetts decision to facilitate the forced sterilization of a young woman.17 At the age of seven months, Carrie Buck was judged to be mentally retarded like her mother. So Holmes gave the green light to the state of Virginia to employ a eugenics solution advocated by medical doctors and scientists and sterilize Carrie for the greater good of society.18

Justice Holmes said flatly and prophetically, “The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.”

It is no surprise that Hitler and the Nazis were big fans of Oliver Wendall Holmes.19 By the way, it turned out that Carrie was not mentally retarded after all.

Crimes Against Humanity & The Informed Consent Ethic

Utilitarianism, like eugenics, was discredited during the Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg after World War II when medical doctors and scientists, who were charged with crimes against humanity, used the utilitarian rationale to justify medical experiments on captive human subjects.20The Doctor’s Trial in 1946 gave birth to the Nuremberg Code and the ethical principle of informed consent, which has been the guiding principle in the ethical practice of modern medicine since then.21 Respect for the informed consent principle protects ordinary people from exploitation by wealthy and powerful individuals, corporations and institutions in society, who are in charge of defining “the greater good” and can easily invoke that utilitarian argument to commit civil and human rights abuses.

Take Doctors & Scientists Off the Pedestal

Now, we come full circle to 2010, as we witness doctors in positions of authority threatening people with loss of employment and financial ruin if they refuse to get injected every year with influenza vaccine, a vaccine that carries two risks: the risk of injury or death and the risk of not working at all.

Why are we letting fellow citizens with M.D. or Ph.D. written after their names to tell us what kinds of risks to take with our lives or the lives of our children? Why do we continue to put doctors and scientists on a pedestal in America and fail to put boundaries on the power they too often wield with callous disregard for the informed consent ethic, civil liberties and individual human life?

Influenza Vaccine: You Have the Right to Weigh the Benefits & Risks

Whether or not you are a health care provider, the decision about whether or not to get a flu shot every year is a personal health choice that should be yours to make after you become informed and weigh the benefits and risks. Educated health care professionals and consumers alike are perfectly capable of analyzing the facts about influenza and influenza vaccine, including the fact that:

  1. 80 percent of all flu-like illness reported during the “flu season” is NOT caused by influenza but by other viruses and bacteria;22
  2. Only 5 to 20 percent of Americans get type A or type B influenza in an average year and the majority recover without any complications and are left with immunity to the strains they were infected with, which contributes to natural herd immunity in our population;23, 24
  3. Like most infectious diseases, influenza can be prevented or reduced in home and health care settings with hand washing, masking and separating sick and healthy persons;25, 26
  4. Influenza viruses are constantly evolving so, depending upon the year, the flu shot may or may not contain the influenza strains associated with most reported influenza cases;27
  5. The majority of published influenza studies are so poorly designed, they have not demonstrated that influenza vaccine is effective or safe;28, 29
  6. Influenza vaccines containing the pandemic H1N1 “swine flu” strain have generated increased reports of paralysis, blood disorders and convulsions;30, 31
  7. There are no clinical studies to evaluate the long term positive or negative health effects on human populations of being injected with influenza vaccine every year throughout life; and
  8. Nobody knows whether mass use of influenza vaccine from the cradle to the grave by all Americans will put pressure on influenza strains to become more virulent like has happened with other microorganisms and universally used vaccines.32, 33

Intimidation & Retaliation to Force Vaccination Is Unethical

It is unscientific, irresponsible and a gross waste of health care dollars, especially in these hard economic times, for doctors and scientists in positions of authority to conduct an uncontrolled national medical experiment on the American people by threatening societal sanctions for those who refuse to get a flu shot every year. Firing health care workers, already hit by unemployment, for simply exercising their human right to informed consent to medical risk taking, is unnecessary and unethical.

The National Vaccine Information Center, which has defended the informed consent ethic in medicine since 1982, joins with other responsible organizations and enlightened individuals, who oppose use of intimidation and retaliation to force all health care professionals to use influenza vaccine.34, 35 NVIC continues to call for informed consent protections in all vaccine policies and laws in America, including liberal medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions to vaccination.

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

A British historian, who died three years before the 1905 US Supreme Court justices issued their flawed legal opinion about mandatory vaccination, got it right when he said, “Power corrupts [and] absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 36 History has shown that medical doctors and scientists do not know how to wield power without leaving a trail human suffering behind them.

It is time for Americans to stand up and draw a line in the sand for doctors, who fail to appreciate the difference between offering a medical opinion and giving an order that punishes people for disagreeing with that opinion.

Learn More & Stand Up For Your Informed Consent Rights

Go to for more information on diseases and vaccines. Sign up for our Vaccine E-newsletter and watch for the announcement of NVIC’s Vaccine Advocacy Portal that will give you the tools you need to stand up in your state and protect your human right to informed consent to vaccination.

Remember, it’s your health, your family and your choice.


1 Offit, P. 2010. Mandating Influenza Vaccine: One Hospital’s Experience. Medscape.

2 King WD. Woolhandler SJ et al. 2006. Influenza Vaccination and Health Care Workers in the U.S. Journal of General Internal Medicine.

3 Centers for Disease Control. 2008. State-Specific Influenza Vaccine Coverage Among Adults – US, 2006-07 Influenza Season. MMWR.

4 Centers for Disease Control. 2010. Interim Results: State Specific Influenza A(H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Coverage – U.S. Oct. 2009 – Jan. 2010. MMWR.

5 Haber P, DeStefano F et al. 2004. Guillain-Barre syndrome following influenza vaccination. Journal of the American Medical Association.

6 Corderoy A. Sept. 19, 2010. Side effects worse than the disease. The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia).

7 Infectious Diseases Society of America and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Aug. 31, 2010. Press Release: Nation’s Leading Infectious Disease Experts Call for Mandatory Flu Vaccine for All Healthcare Personnel: Vaccines Should be Required for Continued Employment for Healthcare Personnel, Epidemiologists and Infectious Disease Physicians Say.

8 Neale T. Sept. 8, 2010. Flu Vaccine a Must for All Healthcare Workers, AAP says. Medpage Today.

9 Jacobsen v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11(1905. LSU Law Center.

10 CNN. Nov. 15, 2007. Vaccinations or Jail: County’s Threat to Parents.

11 Centers for Disease Control. 2010 Child & Adolescent Immunization Schedules.

12 Centers for Disease Control. Adult Immunization Schedule - 2010.

13 HealthCare Finance News. 2010. Global vaccine market now exceeds $20B.

14 Glorikan H. 2009. Influenza Scare Not the Only Vaccine Driver. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.

15 Kresse H, Rovini H. 2009. Influenza Vaccine Market Dynamics. Nature Reviews.

16 Mautner, T. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy. and Utilitarianism. The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy.

17 Supreme Court Upholds Sterilization of the Mentally Retarded – Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200, 475 Ct. 584, 71L, Ed. 1000 (1927). LSU Law Center.

18 Encyclopedia of Virginia. Buck v. Bell (1927).

19 Black E. Nov. 24, 2003. The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics. History News Network (George Mason University).

20 Seidelman WE. 1996. Nuremberg lamentation: for the forgotten victims of medical science.British Medical Journal.

21 Katz J. The Consent Principle of the Nuremberg Code: It’s Significance Then and Now. The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 227-239.

22 FDA. Feb. 20, 2003. Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory CommitteeMeeting Transcript.

23 Centers for Disease Control. Seasonal Influenza

24 Simonsen L., Clarke MJ et al. 1998. Pandemic versus Epidemic Influenza Mortality: A Pattern of Changing Age Distribution. Journal of Infectious Diseases.

25 Enstone J. 2010. Influenza transmission and related infection control issues. Introduction to Pandemic Influenza (pp. 57-72). CABI

26 Aledort TE, Lurie N et al. 2007. Non-pharmaceutical public health interventions for pandemic influenza: an evaluation of the evidence base. BMC Public Health

27 Fisher BL. 2004. Flu Vaccine: Missing the Mark. The Vaccine Reaction (National Vaccine Information Center).

28 Jefferson T. 2006. Influenza vaccination: policy versus evidence. British Medical Journal.

29 Jefferson T., Debalini MG et al. 2009. Relation of study quality, concordance, take home message, funding, and impact in studies of influenza vaccines; systematic review. British Medical Journal.

30 National Vaccine Information Center. 2010. Press Release: NVIC Calls for Expanded Monitoring of Pandemic H1N1 Vaccine Reactions.

31 Collignon P, Doshi P, Jefferson T. 2010. Adverse Events Following Influenza Vaccination in Australia – Should We Be Surprised? British Medical Journal.

32 Associated Press. Sept. 17, 2007. Shot may be inadvertently boosting superbugs. MSNBC.

33 Fisher BL. July 8, 2010. Whooping Cough Outbreaks and Vaccine Failures. NVIC.

34 ACLU. 2009. NYCLU Urges Public Education and Voluntary Vaccine for H1N1 Flu, Warns Vaccine Mandate Violates Privacy Rights. Testimony by Donna Lieberman.

35 Sullivan PL. 2010. Influenza Vaccination in HealthCare Workers: Should It Be Mandatory? Journal of Issues in Nursing.

36 John Dahlberg-Acton (1834-1902). Wikipedia.

Click here to watch the video.


myra said...

I think it's ludicrous for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,to force their workers to "comply" or be terminated.What a go Adolph Hitler!I'm a health care worker in the state of Virginia and in the first place,the flu shot is only a projected analysis of the type of strains that may occur in your region.A lot of people are not aware of could still get the flu.
exa:strain A,E and G hit Philadelphia,but health care worker(Joan)travels to Boston and picks up strain B.Maybe the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia should "fire" their employees if they travel too.Does that sound reasonable to you?
A lot of health care workers that I have worked with are of the opinion that...not only does the flu shot have risks,but it doesn't allow our bodies natural defenses to battle the mutating flu strains that are here and that are coming perhaps in the form of a pandemic.It's sounds like somebody in Philadelphia (city of brotherly love and representative of freedom)needs to start a petition to stop this now.

Virginia health care worker
Myra Harris
great,great,great etc...niece of George Washington.
(I think he stopped by your city)

Erika Higgins said...

Barbara, I just discovered your blog! This article was written so well. It covered so much but yet was a quick and easy read still. I need to borrow your voice! I'm hoping to get the laws in my state amended/changed so that parents and their children can make their own decisions about vaccinations without worrying about how those will affect their child's access to education. Thanks so much for all your work and inspiration for people like me.

Erika Higgins said...

p.s. is it ok if I link to and share this article with others or on my blog? thanks

whitney blane said...

great article, so glad i found it. im continuing my research for my daughter. here's another article i found on the flu shot

Anonymous said...

I am one of the workers in the health care field that was told to get Flu shot even though I am allerigic to it. A few years ago my arm swelled to twice the size as the year before from the shot. If I don't get the shot they make us wear masks throughout the flu season. With my Asthma this will be very difficult. Am temted to get shot even though it could kill me just so I don't have to wear mask. The will post my name to say I did not get Flu shot so if I am without mask for aqny time at all I will be suspended without pay! Is this America! I called my Dr and he will do nothing to help. There must be a violation to my so called rights. Can anyone help us in the medical field? Thanks for your artical

Jody Spark said...

Barbara, thank you for the tireless work you have done educating people about vaccines. Please, please keep going. Keep speaking. Keep educating. The work you have done has made a difference and future efforts will not return void.

I am praying for strength, endurance, courage and wisdom for you.

You are saving lives, Barbara. May YHWH bless you.

Miami Personal Injury Attorney said...

p.s. is it ok if I link to and share this article with others or on my blog? thanks

Anonymous said...

This only created a situation in which my fellow nurses signed the sheet that said we got the shot, and don't give it. Problem solved.

We also can empty the vial and fill it with saline, so multiple dose vials are basically placebo.

Plastic Surgeon Atlanta said...

I don't think so forcing is a good habit.There should be an individual opinion which has to be respected.And I also think there is a body immunity that must be let to work.