After months of following the swine flu pandemic as it broke out across the nation, the hysteria in reaction to the virus is turning into proactive and preventative action.
According to U.S. health officials, the vaccine for the H1N1 virus will arrive Oct. 5, and while many clinics and hospitals wait with anticipation, others are not eager for the vaccine.
Most facilities will offer the vaccine as a voluntary precaution, but some states are requiring workers to receive the vaccination to avoid spreading the virus.
The Washington Post reports H1N1 vaccinations will be mandatory for hospital employees in many states, including in some facilities in New York and Massachusetts.
Many health care workers are unhappy or even angry about the decision, arguing vaccinations should remain voluntary, and people should not be used as guinea pigs to test the effectiveness of the shot. Others are concerned about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
New York State Commissioner Richard F. Daines rationalized the mandatory vaccinations by stating that a patient’s well-being takes priority over personal preferences.
While precaution is certainly necessary, as Daines and other officials suggest, many workers protesting the mandatory vaccine have reason for skepticism. Medical decisions should remain solely with the individual, no matter the circumstance or threat to public health.
This is not to say there is not a place for medication and vaccinations as our nation struggles to defend itself against the flu. However, programs requiring a person to receive a vaccine unwillingly cross the line of personal choice and freedom.
ACU recently announced the availability of flu vaccinations in the Medical Clinic on campus for those who wish to take precautions during the flu season. By offering students a choice, the university is providing a safeguard, while refraining from imposing the vaccine upon students who do not wish to receive it.
This approach should be taken nationwide in the reaction to and prevention of the spread of the H1N1 virus.Â While offering the vaccine to employees within hospital facilities is wise, the choice to receive the vaccination should remain with the individual.
As we struggle to control and eliminate the virus, our nation needs to apply the Constitution in approaching the ethics of vaccinations. Whoever believes preventative action is necessary to avoid the flu should certainly receive a shot, but others who wish to forgo the vaccination should have the right to deny it.