Is Your Freedom Worth Fighting For?

Veterans Day has just passed. A day when we stop and think about the sacrifices the men and women in the military have made to secure the freedoms we enjoy. I ask you, was such a great sacrifice worth it? Sure! Every Veterans Day we try and tell the veterans we know, “Thank you for your sacrifice.” Do our actions speak louder than our words?


Essenia Health made a new policy two months ago that makes getting the flu shot a condition of employment. This was not enough time for the unions to negotiate protections for their members, and an emergency injunction filed by the United Steelworkers Union was struck down in court. Now wait a minute. I thought that here in America one had the right to choose what happens to one’s own body.


If I just lie down and give up this right just because my employer threatens to fire me, how can I face that mother whose son or daughter died to protect the rights I hold so dear? The value of something is determined by its cost. I fear that for most of us war is something that is too distant for us to remember how much our freedoms are really worth.


I do not fault anyone who got the flu shot because they could not afford to lose their job. In a battle, sometimes one has to be sacrificed to save the rest. I am saying I am willing to be that one. Even if I do not have a union, or anyone else to back me, I am willing to stand up for the right to chose for oneself if the benefits of a flu shot outweigh the risks. If no one stands up while this right is stripped from us how long will it be before we cannot find a job unless we prove we have had a flu shot. Then what will be next?


Essentia Health will argue that they offer religious and medical exemptions. To qualify for a religious exemption I must prove it is against my religion to get a flu shot; that I believe my soul will be damned to hell if I get the shot. I must also prove that I live a Christian lifestyle. (Since when are one’s lifestyle choices a condition of employment in America?) I have not been to church in years, but I have held strict religious beliefs in the past that I was willing to die for. The flu shot is not one of them. If I were to be killed for not getting the shot, the benefits of getting one would finally outweigh the risks.


Essentia Health says your doctor can file a medical exemption for you for one of three reasons:
• Allergic reaction to previous flu vaccine with documented allergy testing results.
• Guillain-Barre Syndrome within six weeks of getting a previous flu shot.
• Other. (This will be looked at on a case by case basis.)


If I had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine and my employer would not take my word for it until I went through the hassle and expense of allergy testing…


Then there is Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which is a scary life-threatening disease. I do not believe that it is a disease you build up immunity to, or that you get it lighter the second time. Now the CDC says that it is rare to get it from the flu shot but they cannot tell what the actual risk will be for that year until people have had the shot. “The increased risk was approximately one additional case of GBS for every 100,000 people who got the swine flu vaccine.”


Now if you almost had to die to qualify for the first two options, what are the chances the standards will be lowered for the third?


I had it said to me that I should quit being stupid and just get the shot. It is just a little thing and it doesn’t really hurt that much… Since when does how big something is or how much it is going to hurt determine whether or not I have to lie down and take in order to keep my job.


My question is: Where do we draw the line? Which freedom that I have is worth the sacrifice of those men and women who bled and died to give it to me?

Veteran fired for not getting Shot.

Mandatory flu shot