Hospital workers fired for refusing vaccinations

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Dec. 5 2009 4:26 PM

Hospital workers fired for refusing vaccinations

NBC is reporting that several workers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia were fired for refusing to get vaccinated. CHP cares for very sick children, many of whom have compromised immune systems or are too young to get vaccinated.

The twist? Some of the employees refused vaccinations for religious reasons:

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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"I am a Christian, and my religion prohibits me from receiving vaccines," said Tyrika Cowlay, who was a lab technician.

First and foremost, this isn't a religious issue. It's a safety issue. I mean, c'mon. We know vaccinations prevent the spread of diseases, especially among children, and even more so among those who are too young to be vaccinated themselves -- herd immunity is all those infants have.

Second, I'm thinking that if your religion forbids you from vaccinations (and to my knowledge, mainstream Christianity does not preclude them), then maybe a children's hospital isn't the best line of work for you (any more than an orthdox Jew should work at a pork rendering factory). That may seem harsh, but let's replace a few words in the linked article and see how you feel:

Several Children's Hospital of Philadelphia employees were fired for refusing to wash their hands after using the bathroom.

The people who were let go said this year is the first that the hospital has mandated hand washing.

"I never thought that not washing my hands after I used the toilet would result in the loss of my job," said [one of the workers who was let go].

Imagine someone at a hospital claiming their religion says they can't wash their hands! If I saw a hospital employee leave the bathroom without washing, I'd file a complaint instantly. I have no qualms with the hospital making vaccinations a mandatory requirement.

However, one issue raised in the article is that some employees were granted exemption from the vaccinations and some weren't. If that's true, it's unfair. No one should be exempted due to their beliefs.

There. Problem solved.

So while I'm sorry these people had to be let go, I will always choose children's safety over someone's religious or personal beliefs. Always.

Tip o' the syringe to Matt Andrews.

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