Univ. of California Mandating Flu Shots for All Students, Faculty, and Staff

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

I just got this e-mail; my sense is that this is pretty novel, though some other universities have adopted it recently as well.

To support the health and well-being of UC students, faculty and staff and our communities, the University of California, in consultation with UC Health leadership, has issued a systemwide executive order (PDF) requiring all members of the UC community to receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1, 2020….

In addition to protecting those on campuses and the surrounding communities, this requirement is designed to avoid a surge of flu cases at health care facilities across the state during the unprecedented public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic….

In recent years, flu vaccinations have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older adults on average by about 40 percent. Flu vaccinations also protect those around us, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.

The executive order requires the vaccination for all faculty and staff who are working at a UC location. The university already has a clear policy on immunizations for students, and this action adds influenza to existing vaccination requirements for them, and extends the requirement to faculty and staff beyond those which presently exist for all UC health care workers.

A process will be put in place for faculty and staff to request medical exemptions. Requests for disability or religious accommodations will be handled through the interactive process consistent with existing location policies and procedures.

All UC medical plans which cover faculty, staff and students include coverage for flu vaccinations at no cost to those covered by the plan. In addition, for those without group health care coverage, all ACA-compliant health plans also cover flu vaccinations as part of a preventive care package that includes no copay.

I don't object to this; I think it's generally legitimate for institutions (government or otherwise) to protect their clients (including students) and employees from the risk of harm—including inadvertent harm—inflicted by other clients and employees. And my sense is that, on balance, the immunizations do reduce this risk at what strikes me as modest cost in personal liberty. We've concluded this as to many more serious illnesses, but I think it's also true for the flu, which tends to be less serious but is still potentially deadly. Still, I imagine some of our readers might disagree, and in any event I thought it worth flagging.

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  1. I agree – in my personal calculus, the benefits outweigh the costs to my individual liberty. I don’t mind the modest burden on others which will help to protect them and me.

    If someone objects, they could just find a new employer (recognizing that isn’t always easy).

    But I also agree that some of your readers will disagree.

    1. You don’t mind the modest burden on others. How gracious of you.

      Perhaps you ought to ask Coase for an alternative to coercion.

    2. Does it matter that this is state action (i.e. public university)?

      And then wouldn’t you have to negotiate this with all your unions?

    3. Thew Flu Vaccine is about 98%-99% ineffective. Bit don’t believe me, believe the science.

      “We found 52 clinical trials of over 80,000 adults..”

      “Authors’ conclusions:
      Healthy adults who receive inactivated parenteral influenza vaccine rather than no vaccine probably experience less influenza, from just over 2% to just under 1% (moderate-certainty evidence). They also probably experience less ILI following vaccination, but the degree of benefit when expressed in absolute terms varied across different settings. Variation in protection against ILI may be due in part to inconsistent symptom classification. Certainty of evidence for the small reductions in hospitalisations and time off work is low. Protection against influenza and ILI in mothers and newborns was smaller than the effects seen in other populations considered in this review.”

      https://www.cochrane.org/CD001269/ARI_vaccines-prevent-influenza-healthy-adults

  2. The flu vaccine is about 30% effective, the leading cause of vaccine deaths, and often gives you the symptoms its supposed to suppress.

    The only people who support these mandates are either utterly ignorant, religious-like believers in vain dogma, and Big Flu & Pharna who profits handsomely from these sorts of mandates.

    1. So which is it? Is Eugene (1) utterly ignorant, (2) a religious-like believer in vain dogma, or (3) Big Flu and Pharma?

      1. @Leo Marvin: why only those 3 possibilities that you have enumerated, might not EV be all of them and then still more? Could he, for instance, be one of those that General Jack Ripper feared were trying to poison our bodily fluids? I expect that Sam Gompers (named after the great labor leader?) can conjure up possibilities that neither you, nor I with our so-limited imaginations can begin to contemplate.

        1. I happen to believe Eugene is Cthulhu, but my views aren’t relevant to this discussion. I was merely trying to get Sam to clarify his own.

        2. I’m not convinced that Ripper was wrong.

          1. Let me clarify — he was wrong in what he *did*, but not his general concerns. Back then they were nonchalantly using stuff like Carbon Tet that were not good for people. And today a lot of our drinking water has female hormones in it. Low levels, yes, but what are the long-term consequences?

            1. What Arnold told us.
              “Girly men.”

    2. I actually agree — and the medical nazis have long sought to mandate this.

    3. “the leading cause of vaccine deaths, and often gives you the symptoms its supposed to suppress.”

      You’re full of shit.

      1. There is a government report on vaccine victims published monthly.

        Feel free to refute me with facts instead of emotions. I know in this day and age feels > facts, but try just this once to use your human brain and not your monkey one.

        https://www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/data/index.html

        1. The flu vaccine has 188 deaths from 1,672,400,000 doses since 2006 (7 times as many doses as the second most common vaccine in America).
          The leader in deaths according to the source would be DTP with 696.

          It’s weird: This is the second time in the past week where I read a comment where somebody cited a source that directly contradicted their claim.

          1. That version DTP is no longer administered after they figured out it was mass murdering children.

            What’s weird is how many people talk like authorities on this subject but, as it turns out, know so little.

            FYI, a “dose” isn’t the same thing as a shot.

            1. What’s weird is how many people talk like authorities on this subject but, as it turns out, know so little.

              FYI, a “dose” isn’t the same thing as a shot.

              OK, so I have no idea what your bona fides are, but in my years of working in the medical field, all the flu shots I gave were single doses. So were the DTP shots and boosters.

              I have absolutely no idea what you are actually trying to say with that last line.

              1. Vaxx propagandists and Big Pharma defenders typically trot the dosages stat instead of other metrics, such as per unsuspecting vaxx victim, or per dead vaxxed child because they know that most people don’t realizing how many doses of vaccines people tend to get, they often conflate doses with shots.

                Propagandists exploit this to dramatically increase the denominator.

                1. Since we’re talking about death rates, the number of deaths from diptheria in 1921 (just before the vaccine came out) was 15520. That was when the population was 108 million or so, so that would be equivalent to 45k odd deaths today.

                  So, the DTP vaccine doesn’t seem to be quite as effective at ‘mass murdering’ children as, say, diptheria itself.

                  1. Do the same math for school shootings vs. vaxx deaths from DTP vaccine and equally dismiss the moral panic and demands to oppress rights.

                    1. Is there a vaccine for school shootings?

                2. That… didn’t really clear anything up.

            2. Again, it is a simple fact that the flu vaccine is not the leading cause of vaccine attributed deaths. And on a per dose (or per shot? I’ve gotten a few flu shots… it has always been one shot/one dose) basis is *significantly* safer than almost all vaccines. The statistics are right there in your link. And then in reply to your bizarre “mass murder” comment…

              What exactly is your definition of mass murdering?
              What would you say of the tens of thousands of people that die from the flu each year? How many could be prevented by more widespread vaccination? You mention 30% effectiveness, but it has been 38%-60% in 8 of the last 10 years (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/effectiveness-studies.htm). 60% effectiveness with universal administration could lead to herd immunity. Are those who don’t vaccinate then guilty of mass murder as well? Well, there are the dozen people that die from the flu vaccine each year that we must think of…

              Also, it turns out that the DTP replacement (DTaP) is significantly less effective at protecting against pertussis, and DTP’s worst side effects have since been refuted. The majority of deaths possibly attributable to SIDS. But you know, hysteria… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975064/

    4. Still waiting for you to tell us whether Eugene is (1) utterly ignorant, (2) a religious-like believer in vain dogma, or (3) Big Flu and Pharma.

  3. “Stuff with no side effects generally has no effect at all.”. MD around a bicycling tour campfire many years ago.

    With whom lies the liability for deleterious side effects?

    It was 30 years from my first Influenza vaccination to my next as I watched the complications wax and wane. Now, septuagenarian, I don’t plan on CoViD vaccination for a few years, as I watch the complications wax and wane.

    1. The taxpayers pick up the tab for vaxx victims. The people in government have made Big Pharma immune from any harm they caused. Over $4 billion with a B has been paid out to vaxx victims since the 80s, they even have a extra-legal court system that never assigns fault but still awards damages to vaxx victims.

      1. How much money have governments in the US saved since the 80s in the form of reduced Medicare and Medicaid expenses because the flu vaccine prevented many people from getting the flu?

        Going beyond the government medical program savings, how much has productivity in industry and government been increased by billions of productive workdays since the 80s that were not lost to the flu because the vaccine was widely available?

        How much in private health care costs have been saved because the flu vaccine prevented many people from getting the flu?

        I’m betting that four billion dollars pales in comparison to the above tangible savings.

        And imagine the less tangible, but real, value of billions of person-days of happiness (few are happy when the get the flu even if they never need medical treatment or even miss any work because either they don’t work, can work from home, or go into work anyway).

        Without the liability waiver, either the flu vaccine would not be available or would cost more because the manufacturers would have to insure against liability and that cost, of course, would be added (with overhead) to the cost of a dose.

  4. Was the use of the word “novel” as a reference to COVID-19 intentional? Kudos if it was.

    1. That is the official name of the virus. 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

      1. I know the name of the virus. I was referring to Prof. Volokh’s statement “I just got this e-mail; my sense is that this is pretty novel…”

        1. I caught it. (The joke, not the virus.) I also thought it was pretty funny.

          1. Totally unintentional, I regret to say.

      2. The name of the virus is SARS-Cov-2.
        The illness is covid-19
        Get it right.

  5. I suspect at least part of this to test whether they can do the same for the Covid vaccine soon to be developed.

  6. I avoid the flu shots because, AIUI, they vary every years, some years are more effective than others, and the side effects vary from year to year. It all tells me that it has nowhere near the track record of measles, mumps, tetanus, and all the other proven vaccines.

    I assume any COVID vaccine will be similarly shaky for starters at least, and maybe, if it settles down and collects a reasonably stable track record, and COVID is still hovering over everybody, may take it.

  7. I get flu shots, but I often put off getting one due to my tendency to procrastinate. This year, I’m getting one promptly. Flu symptoms overlap Covid symptoms. I don’t want to have flu symptoms and worry about having exposed people to Covid. Even when it turns out I haven’t, there are young adults I interact with who would lose income and so on if they need to isolate for Covid. I don’t want to put them in the position of needing to worry.

  8. LIBERTARIANS, will some among you, hopefully, the more thoughtful, explain libertarian thinking on public health crises like the current pandemic one and what burdens can be placed on individuals in the service of the common good. Among those refusing to wear face masks are principled, non-crazy libertarians? How about those who protest quarantine orders, like the militia types who showed up outside the state house in MI brandishing their AR-15s, those include reasonable libertarians among them? How about Rand Paul, an embarrassment to the medical profession and Duke’s medical school, telling Fauci he should back-off with his public health policies and look to Hayek for guidance as the US death toll climbs higher and higher.

    Ok, I have asked these questions in a somewhat tendentious way, but I really would appreciate an exposition of the non-fringe libertarian thinking in the face of the current pandemic.

    [Do the anti-vaxxers fold comfortably into the libertarian crowd, or are they their own brand of crazies?]

    If anyone can provide links to intelligent writing on this subject, please do so. Thanks.

    1. From the tone of your question I doubt if you are sincerely looking for the libertarian position on this, but you can find some thoughtful pieces on Cato’s website, e.g https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/vaccination-free-will

  9. “The flu vaccine is about 30% effective, the leading cause of vaccine deaths, and often gives you the symptoms its supposed to suppress.” Any evidence from credible sources to cite in support of your claims? The protection afforded by seasonal flu vaccines does vary from year to year because the flu virus mutates easily and the vaccines are produced based on the best guesses as to which viruses will prove the predominant ones in the coming seasons. In what year were they ever only 30% effective? (Do cite your source.)

    If it is true that flu vaccine is “the leading cause of vaccine deaths,” what are the second, third, and fourth leading causes, and how was causation established? Vaccines with very few and infrequent exceptions (the Cutter polio vaccine disaster) have proven remarkably effective and beneficial, making relatively rare some of mankind’s greatest scourges. The anti-vaxxers do not come from the ranks of our scientific elite, and often number among the self-evidently kooky. The children of pediatricians, infectious disease specialists, public health experts, military members, etc. are usually up-to-date on vaccinations generally.

    “The taxpayers pick up the tab for vaxx victims.” Not true, or partially true at best. The awards to those who present more-likely-then-not (less than scientific standards of proof) evidence of vaccine-RELATED injuries are paid their awards out of the excise taxes levied on the vaccines themselves, and those paid for by those paying for the immunizations with these vaccines.

    “The people in government” FYI, they’re called Congress Members + POTUS and courts

    ” have made Big Pharma immune from any harm they caused.” Back in ’76, when the fear was the Swine Flu would kill great numbers of us, the government had no choice but to indemnify manufacturers for any legal liability, or they would not have agreed to manufacture the vaccine.

    “Over $4 billion with a B has been paid out to vaxx victims since the 80s,” a misleading figure, and you have clearly been mislead, but I won’t waste further time explaining to you, since clearly you are and wish to remain ignorant. (Sorry, but my patience for this nonsense is limited after many years of it.)

    “they even have a extra-legal court system” What is “extra-legal” (whatever that is supposed to mean) about a system established by an Act of Congress signed off on by POTUS and upheld by various federal and state courts, including the US Supreme Court (see Whitecotton) and run by the US Court of Claims.

    “that never assigns fault but still awards damages to vaxx victims.”
    Yes, it is a no-fault system because Congress wanted it to be an easier route to recovery for claimants than what they would be up against if they had to sue manufacturers.

    Stay well, and if you don’t stay well, please try not to infect others.

    1. Performance of the United States Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
      … shows that those receiving vaccinations (mandatory or otherwise) pay for the vaccine, including the excise tax levied on each vaccine. So the taxpayers do indeed pay for this, and similar to the FDIC, the compensation is backed by the US government.

      I’m not doing more homework for you) but for 1988-2019 report shows Influenza vaccine with the highest injury and death rates (5,592 and 176) amounting to 67% of all claims among all other vaccines. Influenza vaccine is by any measure the leading cause of vaccine injury and death.

      You ask ‘how was causation established’? Refer to your own reply about “… an Act of Congress signed off on by POTUS and upheld by various federal and state courts, including the US Supreme Court (see Whitecotton) and run by the US Court of Claims.

      $4 billion is short of the amounts paid into the fund, but with interest and payments, equity in 2018 was about $4.0 billion. Payments look closer to $0.4 billion but the data’s incomplete.

      1. So if I understand correctly you’re saying 176 people have died from the flu vaccine in 30 years. That’s a pretty good track record.

        And using claims as a basis for determining success is like saying twitter represents the views of the majority of the population.

        1. @ThanksForTheFish

          I wonder if that’s more or less than the number of deaths from school shootings over the same time period.

          I’m quite sure that the child vaxx deaths from the DTP vaccine standing at 696 is significantly greater than the number of deaths from school shootings over the same time period it was being administered.

          1. I wonder if that’s more or less than the number of deaths from school shootings over the same time period.

            Far less, even though school shootings are much less common than people think.

    2. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/effectiveness-studies.htm

      29% is what the CDC says for 2018-2019.

      Why are so many pro-vaxxers so ignorant of the facts yet so militant about their beliefs?

      It’s bizarre.

    3. Neuro,
      People in government also include many bureaucratsboth Senate confirmed and not.

  10. More anti-vaxxers than a Green Party convention in here.

    1. Stroking with a broad brush again, Sarc. Being anti-vaxx is one thing. Questioning the value of a vaccine that is completely incapable of creating herd immunity and some seasons is barely effective at all is something quite different.

      Let the adults have their conversations, mk? Stop trying to dismiss reasonable arguments by lumping them in with extremists who share some of the same views.

      1. These people lose all skepticism when it comes to their religious-like, fact-free, beliefs.

        Even the most serious people suffer from this.

        1. Sam, you’re not really speaking from a fact-based foundation. When people point out how small the death numbers are, you just pivot to yelling about child genocide and cover-ups.

          Glass houses and all that.

      2. I was more making a joke.

        I wouldn’t call Prof. Volokh’s cost-benefit anti-vaxxer, which is what you’re speaking about.
        I tend to think it’s worthwhile, especially this year, but I don’t mind interrogating the policy question

        But don’t pretend that’s the conversation going on in these comments. These comments are largely people pounding on the table and invoking cover-ups and hidden science anti-vaxxers, and a few bemused people trying to engage with them.

  11. I disagree. I’ve never had any problem with vaccines, but I reserve the right to have a problem with vaccines.

    I may disagree with your decision not to take vaccines, but I will defend your right to do so.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with a school requirement, at least if schools were less monopolized by the government. For flu it seems unjustified. It would be vastly preferable to try allowing an opt-out for objectors. But I’m against a government mandate.

    It strikes me as very antithetical to liberty for the government to forcibly inject their lab grown substances into your bloodstream. Without due process that is, of course.

  12. OK I ‘know’ that the flu shot isn’t supposed to be able to give you the flu. I have read all the research that says it contains no live or even weakened flu virus (maybe the ones 30-40 years ago did though.) I’ve talked to friends who are medical professionals I trust who say it is not possible to get the flu from the flu vaccine. OK, all that said…

    Every time I get the flu vaccine I get something JUST LIKE the flu. It puts me down for 2-4 days. I have symptoms like the flu. Even once did a rapid flu test and it came back positive. I tell the doctor I came down with the symptoms with 48 hours of getting the shot and they tell me I was just unlucky and picked up the flu in that timeframe or that I was having a bad reaction to the vaccine.

    I know plenty of other people who have the same experience. And logically this doesn’t make sense. I suspect someone is playing fast and loose with some of the data because if people thought there was a small chance they could get flu like illness from the flu shot, compliance rates would drop to a fraction of the amount that get it on a annual basis. Hence probably the disinformation to some extent.

    1. That can happen. For many diseases, the symptoms are the side effects of the battle between the pathogen and the immune system (cytokine storm, the signature cause of death in COVID, is an extreme example). Since vaccines generally work by causing the immune system to react as if it were seeing the actual pathogen, it’s no surprise that you would see the same symptoms. A microscopic version of live-fire training injuries, so to speak.

      That said, in the case of non-live vaccines like flu shots, there are two limits in play. First, the quantity of simulated pathogen is limited, as it does not reproduce. Second, it will not generate a case that you can then pass on to another person. But for some people, even those limits allow enough room to make one feel pretty bad.

    2. Anecdote → conspiracy theory is the best science.

      1. That seems a little disingenuous to the OP. His story seems more like… “People representing science made a statement of fact that does not coincide with my experience. Ergo, that statement, by definition, must be incorrect to at least some degree.” That is not conspiracy, that is logical and correct. The response from those proclaiming science should then to be to restate what they said more accurately if their general point is still true or to clarify a misunderstanding… in this case it would be “Having symptoms as a byproduct of the body learning to fight the pathogen is like having the flu, but is not the same as having the flu.” That clarification allows the the personal experience to be true (as it must be given that it did happen) while also explaining why that experience is not necessarily contradictory to the science. This engenders more trust in science. But the often used bomb of “You look! You science denier!” does nothing to increase trust in science as it still lets the starting scenario to stand… that a statement of presumed fact by the “scientist” is refuted by an actual experience (and this is a reasonable position for someone to hold given what they currently know… giving more knowledge rather than invective is what allows for a worldview in which the experience can be seen in a different light that allows both it and the science to co-exist).

        1. You look should read “You kook!”

  13. my sense is that this is pretty novel

    As an employee of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (the medical school) I was “required” (they didn’t do much actual enforcement, though I went and got it because I was going to anyway and this way it was free) to get a flu shot in 2015, ’16, and ’17.

    So, that’s just one data point, but indicates less novelty.

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  15. This is a BS. Can’t believe they are mandating it.

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