Siskiyou County retreats on flu shot order for health workers amid 'twindemic' fears

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
Healthcare workers protested mandatory flu vaccines in front of the Siskiyou County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

The Siskiyou County Health Department rescinded an order requiring all healthcare workers to get the flu vaccine the day after a group of people spoke out against the rule at the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday.

A replacement order and recommendation will be issued by health officer Dr. Aaron Stutz sometime in the future, according to the announcement on the Siskiyou County Public Health's webpage.

People lined the street in front of the Siskiyou County Courthouse in Yreka on Tuesday and several spoke during the supervisor's meeting.

Healthcare workers protested mandatory flu vaccines in front of the Siskiyou County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

"We are not against vaccination, we are against mandatory vaccination for employment,” said Lori Williamson-Dixon, a Siskiyou County healthcare worker who has never had a flu vaccine due to a familial history of bad reactions to vaccines. 

Registered Nurse Jenny Fisher asked the Board of Supervisors and Siskiyou County Public Health representatives if they’d “ever stopped to consider the harmful implications this could have" on the county.

She said medical professionals are willing to leave their jobs over this issue. 

“Siskiyou County already lives in the state of limited healthcare and resources. With the flu vaccine mandate, dozens of health care workers are ready to leave their jobs,” said Fisher. “When you have just one person call in sick, it disrupts daily operations. If you have multiple people leave, it could potentially shut a hospital down ... I stand before you, asking you to rise up and make way for our individual freedoms. Rescind the mandate.”

More:'Make way for individual freedoms:' Siskiyou health care workers protest mandatory flu vaccinations

Health experts are warning about the 'twindemic' that is looming as the weather turns cold and flu season arrives in October and the coronavirus continues to be a threat nationally.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all U.S. health care workers get the flu vaccine each year. That includes doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists and technicians.

The only two groups who should not get the flu shot are

• Babies who are younger than 6 months.

• People who have severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine, according to the CDC. Those ingredients might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.

A patient receives a flu shot Sept. 24 in Pittsfield, Mass. Flu shots are strongly encouraged this year due to COVID-19.