Friday, September 24, 2010

Mandating flu vaccine for health care workers

Although CDC said it would not support mandatory flu vaccinations for healthcare workers (imagine the lawsuits if this were a federal government mandate), various organizations have recently published policy statements* in favor of such mandatory inoculations for all workers in healthcare facilities.

What is truly strange about this effort is that you cannot find convincing medical studies that show that vaccinating healthcare workers for flu actually decreases cases, on a statistical basis.  Sure, patients come down with flu after being admitted to hospital, and one can cite a death here or there.  But no one has shown that vaccinating workers leads to healthier patients or fewer deaths, and the lack of convincing evidence undercuts the scientific and legal basis for mandating healthcare worker vaccinations.

Gregory A Poland, MD has authored a large number of papers pushing mandatory flu vaccinations, and has been the prime mover for this initiative since the 1990s.  Dr. Greg has been a CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices member, and done vaccine studies for many pharmaceutical firms at Mayo Clinic, where he heads the vaccine research group.  He also was hired by the Defense Department in 1999 to go to military bases and promote anthrax vaccinations.  After I noted about 20 misstatements in his presentation on anthrax and anthrax vaccine on my website, the talks abruptly ceased.

This is what Poland says on his own Mayo website:
"In Dr. Poland's war, there are no rules of engagement; anything goes."
 And Poland acknowledges the lack of evidence supporting vaccinations in this 2007 piece: 
 Jacobson RM, Targonski PV, Poland GA. Why is evidence-based medicine so harsh on vaccines? An exploration of the method and its natural biases. Vaccine. 2007 Apr 20;25(16):3165-9.
UPDATE:  Here is the abstract for Poland's article:
"Vaccines have been hailed as one of the greatest success stories of public health in the 20th century. The 20th century also produced a call for evidence-based medicine (EBM) with applications inclusive of preventive health. Since then, several major EBM analyses have called into question vaccine practices well-accepted by physicians, public health officials, and even the lay public. For example, while counter to existing studies and policies, EBM analyses have concluded that data are lacking to support influenza vaccination of healthcare workers to prevent flu complications among the elderly. In this review, we examine the criticisms and consider the shortcomings in the field of vaccinology as well as in the methodology of evidence-based medicine."
And here are Dr. Greg's disclosures for another 2007 article:
Gregory A. Poland, MD, is the director of the Vaccine Research Group at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and has disclosed that he has served as a consultant to
Protein Sciences,
Novartis Vaccines,
CSL Biotherapies, and
Dr. Poland has also disclosed that he has received research grants from Novavax and Merck.
Dr. Poland has also disclosed that he has served as a chair for the novel vaccine DMSB for Merck.

There will always be people who think they know (or are paid to know) what is best for the rest of us, evidence be damned, and will do their best to coerce us to comply.  Most of the know-it-alls in this case have been shown to be compromised by their income from the vaccine industry, and it appears their input was critical in creating the swine flu boondoggle last year.  Funny how failure doesn't stop them.

One author reports that he is a consultant for Joint Commission Resources. He and some other authors report various financial relationships with Avianax, BD Diagnostics, Care Fusions, CSL, Cubist, EMD Serono, Emergent BioSolutions, GlaxoSmithKline, Human Genome Sciences, Liquidia Technologies, MedImmune, Merck, Novartis Vaccines and Therapeutics, Novavax, OrthoMcNeil, PaxVax, Pfizer, Rymed Technology, Sage, Sanofi Pasteur, Theraclone Sciences (formally Spaltudaq Corporation), Vaxxinate, and/or Wyeth.  This is according to Medscape.

No comments: