Saturday, December 04, 2021

The Irresponsibility of Political Leaders Encouraging Vaccine Resistance by Health Care Professionals: One Small Response to a Local Example

[Below is the text of a letter to the editor I wrote to the Providence Journal about one state legislator who praised the "joyful" resistance of health care professionals to vaccination.  It was published today, December 4, 2021, but appears to be unavailable on the internet. I believe that it applies to many other similarly irresponsible, reckless political leaders throughout the US.]

Dear Editor:

State Senator de la Cruz (Political Scene, Nov 29, 2021)  extolled “joyful defiance” of  health-care workers refusing vaccination: “I am so proud of them for standing firm in their convictions. ... 'No one is going to have a say over my body but me.'”

However, their “joyful defiance” was of the prime directive for health care professionals: to put the health and safety of their patients ahead of all other concerns.  We have a duty to protect their patients from unnecessary health risks.  

During the COVID era, that duty includes the risk of acquiring COVID, a dangerous, sometimes deadly disease.  It also includes protecting their fellow health care professionals from COVID so that they can continue to care for their patients.

Good evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that the currently available vaccines  decrease risk of acquiring COVID.  At least plausible data from observational studies shows vaccination decreases the risk of transmitting COVID once acquired.

Therefore, health care professionals have a duty to be fully vaccinated against COVID to protect their patients and other health care professionals.  Individuals may have an intrinsic right to refuse medical treatments, but that  does not give health care professionals the right not to minimize the risks that they will transmit COVID to patients or other professionals.  Uunvaccinated health care professionals should have no contact with patients or other health care professionals.

It is irresponsible and reckless for a political leader to advocate or facilitate health care professionals’ refusal of COVID vaccination, no matter how “joyful.”

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