One health care provider in New York who's upset by these regulations sent me the following open letter on condition of anonymity. It's a response to a September 24 open letter by State Health Commissioner Richard Daines defending the new rules. My correspondent believes my article yesterday didn't tell the whole story about Empire State workers who will face this choice in the next few weeks; in the interests of fairness, I'm including Anonymous' response to Daines below.
I can't vouch for the accuracy of all the claims. There's one apparent mistake in the claim about the existence of "an adjuvant in the H1N1 vaccine," which is not true in the United States, although it is for Canada and some European countries. (An adjuvant is a chemical boost that means only one dose may be required.) Think of the following as a letter to the editor, weigh the facts and arguments, and make up your own mind about who's right and who's wrong.
September 29, 2009
Commissioner Daines and People of New York State:
This letter is from healthcare workers. You see us every day. We are your neighbors. We are your friends. You say peace to us in church. Our children play soccer together. We minister to you. We minister to your family. We coach you through grueling labors as you struggle to have your children. We help you believe in your personal strength as you gain the confidence needed for parenting. We kneel on the hard floor next to you, working relentlessly to help your baby learn to breast feed. We work 12-hour shifts, and sometimes we never even stop for a bathroom break, because you need us.
We are there for you in surgery, listening to your anxieties patiently and offering soothing reassurances. We hold your hand when you are scared, offering a quiet assurance that you are not alone. We care for your mothers and fathers with a sense of respect and compassionate effort to help them maintain their dignity. We listen to you about their idiosyncrasies, and manage to individualize their plans of care. We set goals with you in rehabilitation, and work by your side to help you achieve these goals. We are right next door to you. We don't live on some commune eating alfalfa leaves with our "crazy ideas." We are everyday people -- you have seen us, you have trusted us, and you know we have been passionate about the care we have provided to you. We love our professions and the opportunity they give us to minister to you.
Now, we need your help. As a group of healthcare workers, we are being mandated by a new New York state law to receive the seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 vaccines. If we do not receive these vaccines by November 30th, that inaction is to be considered our resignation. We must sign a consent for the vaccines prior to their administration. The manufacturers have been granted immunity by the government; they cannot be sued for untoward effects.
We do not want to receive these vaccines. Our educated studies of risks versus benefits conclude that the risks of the vaccine are greater than the possible benefits. You know us -- you know we live by, "First, do no harm." We have many times extended ourselves to you, but our research concludes these vaccinations are not a safe choice for us. For many of us, being forced to receive the vaccine would be being forced to compromise our religious principles. All health care workers with direct patient care are mandated to receive the vaccine, so the coercion is real -- we cannot just go find a job "somewhere else." And the job market of 2009 does not offer opportunity in a different arena where we could still feed our families.
We understand the fear that swine flu and influenza has generated. While our sources of information indicate that swine flu is not a pandemic, we know that the slanted research fed by the media offers results intended to frighten the public. We do not have the power to stop the fear that mass hype is able to generate. However, we can wear masks and continue to practice our aggressive hand washing during peak flu seasons if that is what assures you. We hear the hype you are fed. We do not want to bring you harm, but we should not be forced into harm's way ourselves.
The seasonal flu vaccine is a guess as to what epidemiologists think will present the coming year as flu. Many times, the guess is wrong. And each year the vaccine is loaded with toxins and preservatives injected into muscle tissue which is not meant to filter toxins. It has clear risks. We have healthy immune systems which God gave us to fight disease. The seasonal flu vaccine is new every year -- so can you tell us how well it is tested?
In that respect, the H1N1 vaccine has been rushed out with minimal testing. Testing was to occur over a three-week period, and in the rush to be the fastest providers of the vaccine, manufacturers were funded for production before that brief period was even concluded. The results -- ask the dead squirrels -- did not matter. They will be using an adjuvant in the H1N1 vaccine that had been pulled off the market because of its association with Gulf War Syndrome but is now allowed to get this vaccine out to the public. In the 1970's, they released a vaccine for H1N1 that was pulled off the market because it resulted in a significantly high incidence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Healthcare workers will be the clinical test. We will be enrolled in a clinical trial without consenting to be research subjects.
This law should never have passed through a governing body in the United States of America. It violates the Bill of Rights. It declines our freedom to practice our religion and expects us to compromise our moral code by penalizing us with loss of employment. It mandates consent under duress, which makes the consent itself invalid. It obtains us as human research subjects in a clinical trial that we do not consent to. It denies us our right to refusal of a medication by putting us under duress. We are being put in a situation of coercion and assault. We fear loss of employment by exercising our freedom of speech and speaking out against this injustice. The United States is a different governing body than the democracy we learned about as children.
We are your brothers and sisters as citizens of New York State and we are beseeching your help. The government has created a law that should have no legal standing, but we will lose our jobs unless we yield to the law. We do not want these injections in our bodies and should have that freedom of choice. We should be allowed to practice our freedom of religion in which we place our trust in God, not medical establishments and political agendas.
Please do not let New York state proceed with this law. It will only become a precedent for further violations of our freedoms. We are everyday people and we do not have the monetary means to fight this individually, it is a huge battle. The New York State Nurses' Association had already spoken out against mandated vaccines when the law was just a bill, but their voice was not considered. We do not have time to wait for "someone else" to fight this battle, we need every individual's help to make a large public voice so the government will repeal this law or at the very least, gain an injunction to stop the mandating so there is time for the law to be reviewed by the courts and be found unconstitutional.
We have made it our profession to help and would like to continue to practice in New York state. We have been placed in a situation that is terrifying us. Commissioner Daines, you tell us we should not let us fear infringe patient safety. Please do not insult us. We take care of HIV patients during their post partum hemorrhages; we provide VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci) wound care and suction. We work 13 hours non-stop putting our patient desires above even our basic body needs. There is a reason 60 percent of educated health care workers historically decline the seasonal vaccine, and there is even more opposition to the H1NI.
It seems you'd like to use your position to threaten ours and play God with our lives. You are not our God, Commissioner Daines. We are perfectly willing to wear masks around our patients during the peak influenza season. We beg you to reconsider before New York state loses another group of dedicated health care workers. We will find our united voice and New York state will have a health care crisis on December 1 without us. Please come to reason.
Declan McCullagh is a correspondent for CBSNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can bookmark the Taking Liberties site here, or subscribe to the RSS feed.