Friday, September 18, 2009

Mandating vaccinations: APIC

APIC is the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.  Its President and most officers are RNs, but no particular qualifications are required for membership, apart from a $175 annual fee.  An August 31, 2009 APIC announcement says, "The association's more than 12,000 members direct infection control programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the globe."
APIC's announcement further states:  "All healthcare workers, including those who are pregnant, need to be immunized against seasonal influenza and 2009 H1N1 virus when vaccines become available... Current rates of healthcare worker immunizations are appallingly low and must not be tolerated.  It's time for hospitals to require flu shots--and hold employees accountable for declining the vaccine."
Why is it so important to be immunized this year?
"Immunization will be especially critical for healthcare personnel during the 2009-2010 flu season because we will have more than one virus circulating,” said APIC 2009 President Christine J. Nutty, RN, MSN, CIC.
Pardon me, Ms. Nutty.  Do you understand the facts upon which your assertions are based?  There are multiple influenza viruses circulating every flu season, and sometimes outside the season.  That is why seasonal flu shots contain antigens from 3 different strains.  Frequently the circulating strains change mid-season.  Therefore, having more than one virus circulating is not and has never been unique or critical.  Here is the composition of this year's vaccine.

According to CDC's Anne Schuchat, 2% of currently circulating influenza virus is of the seasonal type, and 98% is swine flu.  This suggests the population should be eligible to receive swine flu vaccines, but if seasonal flu remains at 2% it would hardly be necessary to vaccinate for it.

However, the swine flu vaccines have not completed safety testing.  Nor do we know how effective they really are:  the only data available currently concern antibody levels generated, not cases of flu prevented, and even these data are not available for children and pregnant women.

Why do you want to mandate vaccines whose safety and effectiveness are not yet known? Did one of your strategic partners,  a partner in prevention or other corporate relationships suggest it?  APIC should be held accountable for providing information on where this idea for mandating vaccinations really originated, and whether, how much and by whom APIC was paid to produce and disseminate it.

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