A group of doctors are standing up for their freedom. They’re refusing to get vaccinated against the new COVID virus, which has caused an epidemic in France. The decision is both risky and controversial, but many people feel that they have the right to choose what goes into their body. One doctor shared his experience with being kicked out of UCLA hospital after he was suspended for not getting vaccinated something he believes could be a violation of his first amendment rights as well as an infringement on medical ethics.
The World Health Organization estimates the number of those affected by the COVID virus in France at around 400,000.
This year’s flu vaccine contains a live form of COVID, and medical staff have to be vaccinated or fired if they don’t comply, reports James Griffiths at CNN . Medical exemptions are being issued for those who have contraindications, but these are few and far between. More than 80% of the French doctors surveyed by the Union des Epidémiologistes Médicales , or UEM, said they were against being vaccinated for COVID.
Dr Julio Montaner is a renowned AIDS researcher, president of the International AIDS Society and director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, who has no plans to get vaccinated because he is concerned it could compromise his health.
The public expects us to be objective and to only present the data that we see as correct, Montaner said. If we receive a vaccine at work, then you are sending a message that this is useful, and have to be honest about it. Montaner was disappointed that his local health authority required him to get vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox but not COVID.
Montaner was suspended from the Vancouver General Hospital after he refused to be inoculated against meningitis. He was reinstated after two weeks because of public pressure, according to CBC News .
While the Vancouver General Hospital told CBC that it has no official policy regarding mandatory vaccinations for staff, COVID is one of the few exceptions that require inoculation. According to Stacey Daub at Science Blogs , who spoke to Dr Montaner, the hospital has an anti-vaccination policy that extends to other infections, but the only vaccine they will not allow is COVID because it’s not yet approved by Health Canada.
Scientists are in a difficult position in this debate because many of them have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies whose products are being mandated. Dr Montaner does not believe these ties influence their research and is happy to continue his association with them in this case.
Montaner also said he was worried that the COVID vaccine would be made compulsory in the future, which would severely impact his work.
Today we have a tremendous amount of tools to prevent infections, vaccines being an important one, but they’re not perfect, he said. I’m worried about the slippery slope of mandatory vaccine for everyone, which is very different from recommendations that are made.
The COVID virus was first identified in September after it came into contact with a pig farmer who had been attacked by wild boars on his farm. Since then more than 150 cases have been reported across Europe .