Nurse Tells Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons How She Was Fired for Refusing Flu Vaccine

TUCSON, Ariz., March 12, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A critical-care nurse who had worked at Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital (IUHGH) for 22 years tells the story of how she and coworkers were fired, simply for refusing to receive influenza vaccine, in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Most requests for medical or religious exemptions were denied.

"We were required to produce evidence of being part of a recognized religion that teaches that members should not accept vaccines or other preventive medical treatments," writes Ethel Hoover, R.N., B.S.N. "However, to require membership in an organized religion violates Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

Even requests drafted by a lawyer specializing in vaccine law and exemptions were denied. Appeals and requests for a face-to-face meeting with the hospital's influenza board were also denied.

Some employees capitulated and received the vaccine, despite strong objections, because they could not afford to lose their careers. One told Hoover, "I had to sign a waiver that I was voluntarily getting it. It was hard for me to sign because that was completely untrue."

The hospital produced no evidence that unvaccinated workers were infecting patients. Hoover pointed out to a hospital official that the influenza season was said to be the "worst ever," despite all the vaccine mandates. She shared her faith as an Anabaptist and told him how Anabaptists had to leave Europe because of their beliefs.

"I don't think we can bring religious persecution into this discussion," he replied.

"The hospital's willingness to destroy the careers of dedicated nurses is especially shocking in view of the limited effectiveness of flu vaccine," states Jane M. Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Orient presented a critique of the evidence base in the winter 2012 issue of the Journal. More recently, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that this year's vaccine is effective in only slightly more than half the recipients—and in the elderly only 9 percent effective against the most dangerous virus.

Hoover concludes: "As adult citizens of the United States of America we should have freedom of choice about what we consume or what is injected into our own bodies, and protection from violation of our religious beliefs and human rights."

The Journal is an official publication of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, which was founded in 1943.

CONTACT: Ethel Hoover, R.N., (574) 875-5543 Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.comSource:Association of American Physicians & Surgeons