Before you read this article understand the following. This article is about our right to choose. It is about education rather than intimidation and coercion. Our failure to educate honestly and transparently, a loss of trust in a bungling bureaucracy, and the need to get everyone on the same page. It is about personal freedom and our elected authorities’ rights to dictate issues that involve our personal health. It is not about vaccines, they merely happen to be the vehicle in this instance to support discrimination. I support vaccines, as do the publications the article appears in. We want what is best for us, for our populations, and our health. For those unable to make this subtle distinction please find something else to read. We do not face an extinction-level event here that requires draconian actions that erode our right to choice and MAY IMPACT OUR HEALTH. Wear your mask, social distance, get vaccinated if you’re at risk or feel comfortable with the vaccine.
My colleague and Medika co-founder Dr Jeff Livingston published an article yesterday morning that caught my eye. It’s about the Houston-based Methodist Hospital System and you can read the full article here. Essentially, here is the gist of the piece. The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Marc Boom informed staff that they will now be required to be vaccinated. The new mandate will require all staff to receive their first vaccine dose by the middle of April.
They are the first hospital in the US to formalize this policy in writing, an important step that will be closely watched by other institutions, as this is in direct contravention to Federal Law and CDC guidelines, that state very clearly that experimental drugs — remember that none of the vaccines have finalized trials and only enjoy Emergency Use Authorization(EUA) approval with the FDA — may not be forced upon the public.
Individual rights and freedom of choice lie at the heart of this federal legislation. There is an unknown long-term element of risk (we have no idea if there will be any long-term adverse consequences to either of the two types of vaccine) in accepting the covid vaccine and the Federal government acknowledges and accepts this. As they don’t offer any form of compensation in the event things go wrong and have in fact indemnified drug makers against any claims relating to the covid-19 vaccines, it should only be considered fair that the choice to take the vaccine, be a personal one.
EUA MEDICINES CAN NOT BE MANDATED.
But it is happening, across the US, and various mechanisms are being employed to ensure you get your covid jab. Schools and universities will be at the forefront of the coming standoff. As early as September of 2020 articles were being published by NBC News, poorly researched and based on the flawed assumption that we’d be dealing with a normal vaccine and parents would have no legal foot to stand on. The truth is a very different beast.
Companies engaged in public-facing services are insisting, albeit less formally, that staff get vaccinated. Vaccine passports are on the verge of being released on an unsuspecting public and I’ve discussed the discriminatory mechanisms of these in-depth here.
Doctors tend to use the logic applied to mandatory vaccination for influenza and apply this to the covid vaccines. This is fundamentally flawed reasoning. We are not dealing with an influenza vaccine here, that has proven itself over decades and for which well-established risk profiles exist.
What are the facts?
- The covid vaccines, short term, have proven themselves both safe and very effective. FACT. There is however concern that they may not fare so well against variants and more data are required to answer this question definitively. You can validate existing reported data on adverse reactions recorded on the VAERS system via the CDC’s Wonder interface.
- We are dealing with a novel method of administration for two of the vaccines, mRNA is new and in a normally cautious medical environment, these products would have taken another four to five years to reach the market. FACT. We’ve rushed this, out of necessity. Another mRNA vaccine targeting Zika is in clinical trials. It will be interesting to see the timeline on this vaccine for final FDA approval.
- The SARS-CoV2 virus poses minimal risk to younger, healthy individuals with no co-morbidities. In fact, many older people who are otherwise healthy, also survive the virus. It poses a marginal, quantified risk unless you are obese and/or suffer from co-morbidities, a comprehensive list of which you can find here. FACT. The virus has already claimed over half a million lives in the US alone. There is clearly a risk, but it is a qualified one that we can now begin to statistically address.
- The covid vaccines we are offered are unapproved medicines. FACT. None have as yet completed trials (Long-duration Phase 3 findings). They all enjoy Emergency Use Authorization, which is not the same as a formally approved drug that has satisfied all the testing criteria.
- There is no existing data on the long-term efficacy and possible unforeseen side effects of an mRNA vaccine. FACT. While there may in fact, and we all hope this to be the case, be no side effects, we cannot exclude the possibility of negative unforeseen outcomes. It is an unquantified risk that will only be resolved over time and new research highlights our minimal understanding of the processes we are attempting to control.
The US government recognizes these facts and has passed legislation to protect its citizens accordingly. Sensible legislation, not influenced by pandemic paranoia, but a law that places the interests of the individual at the forefront. You can access the US legislation in full here and if you’re based in the EU. here’s the EU legislation passed to protect unvaccinated individuals against discrimination.
The Federal law is emphatic. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) medications are not compulsory and your decision not to partake in vaccination, cannot be used to discriminate against you.
Dr. Amanda Cohn, the executive secretary of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, was asked if Covid-19 vaccination can be required, Her answer was emphatic.
“ under an EUA, “vaccines are not allowed to be mandatory. So, early in this vaccination phase, individuals will have to be consented and they won’t be able to be mandatory.” Cohn later affirmed that this prohibition on requiring the vaccinesapplies to organizations, including hospitals.”
What if companies, businesses, and hospitals persist?
The solution is a simple one. Accept liability for any potential future negative impacts the vaccines may have on the recipient’s health. One would assume from his policy that individuals like Dr. Marc Boom, from Houston Methodist, is completely convinced the covid vaccines are safe and will not produce any adverse reactions in the years to come?
If not, then he is knowingly subjecting an employee to a medication he is himself unsure of. Let’s clarify this even further. If the employee is in an established risk category, the argument becomes moot, as the benefit of taking the vaccine outweighs the risk. I am certain that the majority of Dr. Boom’s workforce is in fact healthy and not classified as being in a risk group for developing Covid.
Let’s see the employers put their money where their mouth is. If you are completely convinced the recipient will suffer no future ill effects from the vaccine, put it in writing. Accept liability. Except you won’t, will you? Not even the U.S. government is willing to go down this route. It is too fraught with risk and yet Dr. Brown seeks to remove the choice from his healthy employees, to roll the dice for them. What gives him the right?
Who gives any employer the right to ask this of their employees. It is offensive and completely at odds with medicines’ prime directive. To do no harm. If you are not 100% sure of the product and the disease poses negligible risk to the patient, can you in good faith proceed? What kind of medicine do you practice and what side of the fence are you on?
Time has just published an article suggesting people who won’t accept the vaccine now will be shamed into it later. Vaccine passports and schools will add to the pressure. All wrong, all hopelessly at odds with the law, and each process these institutions engage in, further distances people from the vaccines. The anti-vaccine brigade must be holding house parties celebrating your stupidity and arrogance.
The covid vaccine is a tool of health
It is not a political weapon to be wielded for commercial purposes, for political gain and to alter the global balance of power. It is a tool to combat the pandemic and to save lives. For those at risk, for the aged, for those who are obese, suffer from other risk factors, and struggle with immune disorders, this vaccine is a life-saving tool.
Despite this, it is still an unproven medicine, one not fully tested and one that cannot be enforced on any sector of the community. Getting the vaccine is a question of choice. It must remain this way. I look forward to your considered responses.