Tis the season! Not for the presents and the dreaded family gatherings but for the flu. The season for coughing, aching, sneezing, headache, sore throat and fever is amongst us and some people are frantic. Every day we are bombarded with news about how the H1N1 (swine) flu has become the latest pandemic. Some employers are even threatening their employees with being fired if they do not get the vaccination. Although employers are covering the cost of the flu vaccinations, money is not the only deterrent for not getting the shot. While I understand the benefits of getting the vaccinations, I do not understand why our civil liberties are being threatened.
I hate to be sick but I hate being told what I have to do even more. Knowing that getting the flu shot will decrease the likelihood of catching the flu and missing several days of work is the reason why I get vaccinated; not because it is mandated by my employer or state. A bill has been passed by the Senate three times commanding everyone in Massachusetts to get the flu vaccination or face jail time, monetary fines and possible quarantine during a state of emergency:
Furthermore, government officials would have the power to impose monetary fines, ranging from $50 per day to $1,000 per day or a jail sentence of up to six months for not following government orders… And, the government can isolate or quarantine individuals who are unwilling to submit to a vaccination “if his or her refusal poses a serious danger to public health” Furthermore, Flanagan said arrests can only be made if an officer or health official has probable cause to believe that a person poses a risk to public health. (Butler, 2009)
Luckily for the people in Massachusetts, the House of Representatives has not passed this bill into law. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is not the only state looking to force their constituents to get the flu shot. The New York Commissioner is fighting to make it mandatory for all health care workers to...