No jab, no pay? What do you think?

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Clay Adams | September 17th, 2015

Since my early days in tabloid journalism, one thing became obvious (other than that becoming a chain smoking, alcohol-laden ass wasn’t going to be a foundation for a good career) – sensational sells!

By that, I mean the more controversial you are the more likely people will remember you. Think Mylie Cyrus or Donald Trump. Actually, don’t. The less said about them the better. As a young journo on a Sunday smut rag paper, it was all about taking a snippet of gossip and turning it into story that would make at least some of readers think that gossip was true. It was called a “beat up”.

We lived by a creed that facts should never get in the way of a good story and a beat up (meaning, I suppose, that we would beat up the truth) was always a great way to pull readers. It also showed that a percentage of the population, if fed the right way, will believe almost anything.

For example:

• It seems 35 percent of Americans believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice while 13 percent still think being gay stems from how you are raised. Given that only slightly more think Donald Trump would make a great US President and you can start to see a pattern here.
• A third of Americans believe evolution is a myth, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” It seems God woke up one day, made us all and moved on. If I’d known, I’d have asked for the George Clooney model rather than what I ended up with.
• While almost 90 percent of scientists say genetically modified foods are “generally safe” to eat, only 37 percent of the public believes them. Being an “expert” means nothing it seems. Ironic considering eight out of 10 Americans eat at fast-food restaurants at least once a month – presumably, only at those which don’t sell genetically modified foods. Wherever they are.
• One in four Americans believe the Sun revolves around the Earth. Why? Well, because it does. This number is also close to those who believe Trump would make a great President. Just sayin’.
• Cell phones cause cancer, or at least 20 percent believe they do. Another 40 percent aren’t sure, which means they also think they do but are afraid to admit it. Again, there is countless evidence to show this belief is false ( yet tinfoil fedoras remain mandatory for some. At the same time, 25 percent admit to texting while driving. I know which one I’m more scared about.
• And finally, the really frightening one is that only 44 percent of Americans are confident that flu vaccines don’t cause autism. That means over 60 percent have doubts about the safety of the flu vaccine – much of which stems from a single “scientific” report that was subsequently discredited as a fraud.

The latter is a classic example of how one person’s bogus science is latched onto by wannabe believers and taken as truth. We used to say in my journalistic days that for every false story your write, a percentage will believe it to be true – even if it was clearly not based on fact.

So I can only image how the conspiracy theorists are reacting to news from my former-homeland that Australia is about to pass a law that will withhold child care and other payments from families that fail to immunize their kids.

The “No Jab, No Pay” Bill was introduced back in April removes the ability for people to object to immunization if they want to continue to receive such payments which, for some Aussie families, could amount to around $15,000 annually in child and tax benefits. The only way to opt out would be for valid medical reasons.

Good thing?

So, do I think this is a good thing?

At the risk of ticking off a bunch of people – I do. While I don’t like the concept of people facing financial hardship, it is about time people recognized the science that shows immunization is safe. The merits of immunization are far-reaching, not just for the recipient but the entire population. And if you think otherwise, you’re wrong.

What do you think?

Of course, whether Australia’s no jab, no pay approach is something we should adopt here remains open to debate. We Aussies aren’t necessarily known for our political correctness, so ticking people off here and there is kind of ingrained in our culture.

But would a no jab, no pay strategy work here? You tell me.

About the Author

Clay Adams

Clay Adams is vice president of Communications and Public Affairs and has extensive experience in strategic communications and planning, media relations, issues management and stakeholder communications in Australia and Canada. Clay writes on communication related topics with a wry humorous style and has an interest in discussion about how we want to be understood by others. View all the posts by Clay.

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20 comments on “No jab, no pay? What do you think?

  • Carolyn says:

    Hmmmm, I suspect the Aussie “No Jab, No Pay” is only a problem for the poorer citizens as they may not financially have a choice …. well I suppose that type of situation is nothing new. Australian leaders doing this makes me think of scary science fiction movies!

  • Phaulonius J Knucklebones says:

    Not sure Mr Adams, if you’ve seen this (among other articles) that expose the yearly flu vaccine for what it is….a blind shot in the dark
    (pardon my not being teck savvy enough to condense the article)

    “Ineffective flu vaccine partly responsible for spike in flu deaths

    Health experts call on pharmaceutical companies to develop better flu shots

    CBC News Posted: May 08, 2015 6:51 PM ET Last Updated: May 08, 2015 10:31 PM ET

    A study found that this year’s flu vaccine offered most people virtually no protection against H3N2 – the flu strain that hit most Canadians. (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)

    Related Stories

    Flu vaccine only 23% effective in U.S., even less effective in Canada

    Flu vaccine effectiveness study signals ‘no protection’ this year in Canada

    The number of Canadians who died from the flu virus this past winter spiked at 547 — that’s 200 more deaths than last flu season.

    Health officials say this season’s influenza vaccine didn’t protect against the strain of the virus that infected many Canadians.

    “Obviously, that’s not the only factor at play, but with no protection from the vaccine, the death toll will always be higher,” said Dr. Gaston Deserres, an infectious disease specialist in Quebec City.

    In January, a study based on data from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec found the vaccine offered most people virtually no protection against H3N2 — the strain that caused the lion’s share of illness this past winter.

    Flu vaccine effectiveness study signals ‘no protection’ this year in Canada

    Flu vaccine only 23% effective in U.S., even less effective in Canada

    “If the vaccine had been protective, we would have seen a smaller number of deaths,” Deserres said.

    Calls for better flu shots

    Every year, a flu vaccine is created based on predictions made by the World Health Organization. The WHO forecasts which strains of the virus are most likely to predominate during flu season, which generally begins around November.

    “We hope that next year, we will have a vaccine that will be more effective because the solution to that is proper immunization with the right vaccine,” said Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.

    For that to happen, Deserres said there needs to be a flu vaccine that will protect against several strains of the flu — not just one.

    “At this time, we are using technology that was developed in the 1940s and hasn’t improved,” he said.

    Deserres said governments need to push pharmaceutical companies to develop a better vaccine”

  • Phaulonius J Knucklebones says:

    I went to a great deal of effort writing a well-thought, factual rebuttal to Mr Clay’s hack journalism and it was deleted. Are you concerned that people will be inspired to challenge his fictitious fabrication as it regards mandatory flu vaccines for VCH employees?

    Paul Johnson RN VCH LionsGate Hospital ER

    • Clay Adams says:

      Thanks Paul for your candid and obviously passionate comments. In terms of deleting comments, we do not censor or delete comments unless they are deemed offensive or do not come from a confirmed VCH employee or physician (which is why we always seek to confirm the person through their VCH email and/or other methods prior to posting). Not sure why you thought you had been “deleted” other than not seeing your comment appear immediately after submitting. Unlike some forums, submissions to Up For Discussion are always reviewed by an Administrator for the reasons mentioned above. That process alone can delay the time of posting.

      You clearly believe that VCH or other employers have no right to influence whether you receive a flu shot or not. You are entitled to your beliefs and we respect you for that. However, provincial policy mandates people working in health care be immunized against influenza to protect others and provide a safer working environment. While I appreciate the argument that last year’s flu vaccine may only have been 22 percent “effective”, isn’t 22 percent better than zero percent? Any move to save lives or reduce illness and despair in others – even if is just one life – seems worthwhile to me.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic.

      • Phaulonius J Knucklebones says:

        Thank-you Mr Adams for your response,

        You are correct that I respond with great passion to this debate. But it is not without great consideration of certain facts

        As for your query that, “isn’t 22% better than zero percent” this is a sophist argument that a little knowledge of epidemiology would not allow you to make.
        Receiving the flu vaccine does not make one 22% less likely to get the flu just as NOT receiving the flu vaccine does not mean one has zero protection against flu. It does not work that way. There are too many variables involved to make absolute statements of that nature.
        When one says that there is 22% efficacy it means that of the people who received that flu vaccine it can only be estimated that actual flu was prevented in only 22% of those vaccinated. Many of those people would not have gotten flu anyway. Compared to the quite possibly 50/50 chance of contracting flu. Although even that statistic, is highly unlikely as I don’t believe that 50 percent of unvaccinated population do in fact contract flu.
        In any case, proving 22% even up to 60% efficacy are terribly unconvincing statistics to support forcibly mandating administration of a foreign substance into other people’s bodies.

        Others will be protected by some degree of personal immunity, health care personnel using stringent hand-washing, masking as necessary and when actually ill, the staff member calling in sick. (Which also brings to the table the issue of pressure being brought to bear on VCH staff members through the Staff Health and Wellness Bullying program.

        There are studies that show that receiving the flu vaccine in fact makes people more vulnerable to the flu and here is why.

        Each year the flu vaccine that is composed and used to pre-vaccinate in Canada against flu is obtained through studies of influenza that has already struck in other areas of the world. I believe three speculative strains of flu are used, based on the one they believe most likely to spread to North America.
        This is at best an educated guess. ( I will leave out any argument about corporate pharmacological influence on the ideas and policies regarding flu vaccine as that too is speculation but suspicion remains)

        What is also known is that if one is vaccinated against the flu, this activates an immune response that causes the human immune system to recognize and react to certain flu viruses which, when a different strain of flu spreads among people in Canada it leaves that same activated immune system vulnerable, in fact more vulnerable than if a speculative flu vaccine had been give.

        The fact that the flu vaccine is Provincially mandated is not an argument that proves it’s worth.
        It’s like saying to a child, “you will eat your (undercooked) steak because I am the adult and I know better and it is good for you.” It doesn’t make the argument factual. and it may result in some people that wouldn’t have been sick, getting ill unecessarily.

        Don’t misunderstand me.
        I am not opposed to anyone who wants to get vaccinated, receiving the yearly flu vaccine.
        However am strongly against being forced to accept it for myself when I don’t believe in it’s effectiveness to protect me or my patients and I am prepared to take other, responsible and proven measures to protect my patient’s.

        Paul Johnson RN

      • Marie says:

        Hi Clay,
        I think the jist of your original post has been lost somewhere along the way. Your topic was no jab/no pay for families not immunizing their children with a reference to practices in place in Australia.
        Maybe the vaccination issue for adults should be covered in another blog now that the flu season is on it’s way and VCH is starting to prepare for clinics. I am sure there will be a VCH memo sent out regarding the policies of staff getting immunized.
        That would be quite the topic to cover no jab/no pay. The responses would be interesting.

  • Phaulonius J Knucklebones says:

    Mr (or is doctor?) Adams.

    You refer to immunizations and vaccines as a generic subject which it is not. Other childhood vaccines like polio, measles, mumps rubella are very different than the flu vaccine and are very valuable. Nothwithstanding that there are potential side-effects to any medication, they are proven to have almost eradicated many childhood illnesses that would other maim, incapacitate or kill many many people. I will not explore the epidemiology of said vaccines however I believe you are wrong about the flu vaccine.

    I will not specifically dignify your query about “no jab no pay” (or whatever you cleverly contrive as a gimmicky marketing phrase.) with a response.
    The issue is not one of worrying whether the flu vaccine causes autism or any other illness. It is that the flu vaccine is of dubious efficacy and may in fact make recipients MORE susceptible to the flu.

    Yes, the idea that there is any correlation between flu vaccine and autism has been discredited..
    Equally important however is that there is insufficient proof of efficacy of the flu vaccine to support mandatory flu vaccine for health care staff. Even the Provincial health authority Dr Danuta Skowronki admits that last years flu vaccine had at most 23% efficacy and in fact there is some epidemiological evidence to suggest that flu vaccine recipients were in fact MORE susceptible to flu after receiving the vaccine.

    I consider it not only insulting that a health care professional’s decision to NOT receive the flu vaccine is not respected. I consider it a physical violation verging on assault.
    The mandatory wearing of masks by healthy health care staff amounts to a breach of medical confidentiality as it is thereby evident a health care worker has not received a flu vaccine.

    I am sure you are are that in several Ontario Health jurisdictions this punitive policy has been successfully overturned and Ontario hospitals are not allowed to force their staff to accept a flu vaccination.
    Any competent health care practitioner is able to tell you that good hand-washing technique and wearing a mask when one is ill or calling in sick is more effective than the flu vaccine. However, the Health Authority needs to be seen to be doing something and so they enact this debatably effective policy that disrespects and undermines the skill and decision-making ability of it’s own employees.

    No Mr Adams. You’re OPINION is wrong.
    And no amount of cajoling, coercion blackmail, false or misleading statistics will convince me to accept a flu shot this, or any other year.

    Paul Johnson RN LGH-ER

  • Leanne says:

    The bottom line is that I do not find it acceptable for my employer (or anyone else for that matter) to tell me what to put into my body. Period.

  • Maria says:

    “The only way to opt out would be for valid medical reasons.”…. is “informed consensual healthcare” included as a valid medical reason?

    While we could have a reasoned discussion on which vaccines make sense and when (although I suspect the amount of emotionally charged rhetoric will preclude that happening any time soon) I think the issue of consent to medical treatment is also an important issue to consider when the state is going to start enforcing various treatment (and yes, I consider cutting off child tax benefits a form of enforcement/coercion).

    At present we have laws to provide for substitute consent for those incapable of giving their own informed consent (which includes the legal guardians of children), otherwise we are supposed to be allowed to make our own decisions about the medical treatment of ourselves and those we are responsible for. If the state is going to be taking on those decisions I wonder what other things the state might decide to coerce/enforce in the name of the public good? Governments don’t have a very good track record when it comes to mandatory medical interventions historically and I have no reason to believe that any of the current world governments would do much better.

    I think if the government wants to impact on our healthcare decisions, rather than force interventions on people (particularly disproportionately on people who are most vulnerable and depend on state support) they need to fund and support health education and work on creating a community who have access to the information to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

  • Lyla Smith says:

    We have a problem. There are some extremely virulent and dangerous diseases out there, but many don’t trust the vaccine regimen recommended for children. People seek validation that the whole 20+ injections a child is to receive are all completely necessary. I mentioned Dr. Ben Carson, a neurologist running for US Pres reflected those concerns in a comment during the tv debate there because his comments were current and may have been seen by many. With no knowledge of Carson’s research on this, the author of this article states flatly that he is not to be listened to since he’s a Neurologist, not a Pediatrician. And that people who have concerns re vaccinations are equivalent to people who do not believe in evolution. Derision. Too bad. This is a teaching moment, lost in hyperbole. As mentioned by another in this thread, the flu vaccine last year “failed”. A cost/benefit analysis of the flu shot program was suggested. Perhaps that will engender further insults. Who knows. But insults don’t solve the problem. Children who should be getting polio shots are missing them because parents fear the kids will be subject to a whole regime of injections at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years. Then there are more shots for older kids. People want to know if ALL this is really necessary. If it’s compliance that’s being sought, then perhaps taking another look at the regime is reasonable. Because, as I say, we do have a problem.

  • Rachel Douthwaite says:

    Children can be undervaccinated for a variety of reasons, each of which requires a different strategy. In my opinion, mandatory vaccination does not address the issues that contribute to either groups’ status. Children from vulnerable, marginalized families may experience difficulties accessing health care to receive their vaccinations. On the other side of the issue, there are plenty of affluent, educated parents who have no barriers to accessing care, however they believe that they can prevent these diseases through other means (eating organic, controlling their child’s environment, etc.) Unfortunately the bacteria and viruses don’t recognize their privilege. Each group requires a targeted approach that addresses their individual circumstances and beliefs. Mandatory reporting of vaccinations given, however, would help us to better reflect the percentage of the population that is protected, and help with identifying the unprotected during an outbreak.

  • Paul Frew says:

    Well Clay, thank you for putting your political incorrectness on display! 🙂 Science does have its limits, can flip-flop, is not always as exact as we’d like to think, and often strays into the realm of philosophy – for which it is dismally equipped. My question is, what do the other 10% of scientists think about GM foods?!

  • Clay Adams says:

    Related to this topic, an interesting editorial in today’s Victoria Times Colonist newspaper. Using Vancouver Island as an example, it says that only 63 per cent of kids in that region are being immunized against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and only 68 per cent getting their polio shots. Compare that to global statistics that show 86 per cent of children now get polio vaccine – and that many of those live in Third World countries. You can read the full editorial at:

  • Marie says:

    No I don’t think a healthcare entity should have the ability to inflict punitive measures on families. We have a crisis here on affordable housing and a very high rate of children living on or below the poverty line so to impose financial sanctions would be devastating to some families and ultimately affect the children’s standard of living.
    More emphasis should be on educating parents with a positive approach by healthcare professionals.
    The concept that corporations can manipulate the lives of the people through withholding financial payments to families is the beginning of a slide down a very slippery legal slope!
    It would be interesting to get some feedback as to how the idea is working in Australia. What might work for one country might not work for another.

  • Lyla Smith says:

    Dr. Ben Carson, in the US Republican Pres. debate last night pooh poohed Trump’s contention that childhood immunizations cause autism. Apparently the autism/immunization myth rebuttal didn’t make it into Trump’s in box. But Carson did present a different, quite rational view. That is, maybe ALL the immunizations now on order for children, maybe not ALL of them are necessary, or need to be given on the current schedule. I don’t think anyone has suggested flu vaccines cause autism. I doubt very much that Carson thinks the sun orbits the earth. Diminishing Carson and others who think a judicious look at vaccine regimens is reasonable is not a scientifically sound or socially expedient idea. Certainly flu vaccines have a less than stellar record of efficacy. Characterizing people who disagree with ones point of view is troll like behaviour. Disappointing in an article in a venue such as this. I suggest reviewing Dr. Carson’s comments. He’s a rational man, and a doctor, too. And hardly a creationist.

    • Clay Adams says:

      While Dr. Carson, a neurologist, did push back on Mr. Trump’s ill-informed autism views, I’m not sure his comments on vaccination comforted everyone. The Washington Post captured some of those mixed opinions ( while Forbes magazine went one further, asking Dr. Carson to declare which of the numerous other vaccines we should cut down on ( Is an interesting debate for sure and thanks for sharing your perspective.

      • Lyla Smith says:

        Dr. Carson seemed to have considered his answer quite carefully, and what he said may represent a potential paradigm shift in how the medical community is evolving its thinking on this issue. Those publications are not medical journals, so I hope the responses you mention are science based and not opinion. Could you post links to the articles themselves rather than to the publications’ web sites? I do have a problem with the tone of your article in that it demeans parents and compares them to people who don’t believe in evolution, for instance. There is division in the community on this issue. Parents who care and worry what goes into their children don’t need to be insulted, and maybe Dr. Carson actually has a point. Are all these shots truly necessary? Maybe reduce the regime to the main most contagious and damaging diseases. Or, just insult everyone who disagrees with you.

        • jk carlyle says:

          I would REALLY like to know which vaccines Dr. Carson would like to drop from the schedule. I would never suppose to suggest how neurosurgeons should operate.It seems Dr. Carson has no such compunction about suggesting how preventive medicine specialists, paediatricians, infectious disease specialists, and family physician should. His remarks are totally unsupported by evidence and just further feed into folks unjustified worries about vaccines.

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