Do you get the flu vaccine? If you choose to, that's fine. But what about the nurses who choose not to? Many of them are being threatened to lose their jobs. This is not okay, and this is my answer to that.
To Whom it may concern,
My name is Terri Wentzell and I have been a registered nurse here at Brigham and Women's Hospital since 2000. I have had the opportunity to care for thousands of amazing patients at this institution and work with many wonderful co-workers as well. It has been quite a journey, and one that I cherish.
However, I have recently been a bit troubled in hearing of the new flu vaccine policy stating that all employees are required to get the vaccine, or else face termination if no medical or religious exemption is given. This does not sit well with me, and this is the reason for this letter. While I do believe I qualify for a religious exemption (and I will get into that further), I do have to say that I am shocked that this hospital would think nothing of firing a highly qualified, well respected and experienced nurse who has given years of dedication to this institution in caring for sick patients - all over a flu vaccine that has a track record of being less than 50% effective. Wow. That doesn't sit well with me, as I mentioned earlier. The Brigham claims to value its nurses, yet this does not show that at all. While I have received the flu vaccine on occasion in years past, the more I think about it and research this topic, the less I am in favor of getting it. I found myself at times just lining up with the masses and obeying a stated recommendation without really thinking about it. The older I get, the more important I think it is to be completely convicted about every decision made in life. This is why I am further investigating this topic and realizing how it affects my own life.
I understand that the hospital would like to prevent the spread of the flu virus by requiring staff to be vaccinated, but there is one huge problem here. No one has any idea of the vaccination status of the hundreds of patients, family members and visitors that are walking all over the hospital every day. This cannot be tracked and no one has anything to say about that. The visitors are not questioned or asked to wear a mask in patient care areas. Forcing all staff to be vaccinated is not going to massively decrease flu cases in the hospital when you have hundreds upon hundreds of other people we know nothing about walking in and out all day long. In past years there have been well over 90% of staff vaccinated... and still plenty of flu cases. So is it the last 10% of staff causing all the problems? I highly doubt it. And how many people who got the vaccine actually got the flu? Quite a few that I know of. I personally have never had the flu, and I am grateful for that. My daughter had the flu once - and this was a year that she did get the flu vaccine. I remember being angry and wondering what good it even was. No more.
What do I do for flu prevention? Quite a bit, actually. As some of you may know, I am also a personal trainer, wellness coach and fitness nutrition coach. I have written a book on health, fitness and total wellness for nurses called Nurse Gone Strong. I have a website nursegonestrong.com where I encourage nurses to engage in healthy behaviors for their own sake. A healthy lifestyle and prevention of disease is clearly important to me and is something I spend a great deal of time on. My flu prevention consists of regular exercise, a very healthy diet filled with fresh food (not processed man-made junk), plenty of vitamin D (either from the sun, or from supplementation in winter months), plenty of sleep and stress relieving measures like yoga and meditation on a regular basis. All the things I just mentioned are extremely effective for creating a super strong immune system for fighting the flu. Oh, and frequent hand washing, of course. I have just as much (if not more) protection against the flu as anyone who has the vaccine. Not to mention, no risk of unpleasant side effects come with my prevention, unlike the vaccine that is filled with numerous questionable foreign substances and has had many negative reactions documented for years. Those chances may even be small in number - but why should I risk that? Speaking of questionable ingredients, I am also one who cares greatly about what I put on my skin. I read labels on health and beauty products and always try to use toxin free products. There are all kinds of chemicals, carcinogens and who knows what else in personal products and cleaning products... and I don't want those in my body. I also speak about this in my book. The flu vaccine is not a natural thing that belongs in my body.
Does the hospital track the healthy behaviors of all employees and threaten termination if they are not complying? Of course not. But they are happy to force injection of a vaccine that is rarely effective and can have possible side effects that can be damaging. Isn't that silly. They should be handing my book out to staff rather than vaccines. Not to mention, the flu shot is nothing more than a medical guessing game. No one knows what strains of flu will come about that season when they are actually creating the vaccine. But this is also about money, isn't it. Yes, the hospital gets reimbursed for having the majority of employees vaccinated. This is just another way Big Pharma is trying to take over and rule the world. Anyone who has read my book knows that I am always in favor of preventative measures rather than taking medications. There is a time and place for certain medications, but this world has become pill crazy and people are pushing medications for all kinds of things rather than preventing the problem with simple healthy behaviors. This is no different, in my opinion. Doctors get kick backs all the time for pushing certain medications, and the hospital does as well with the flu vaccine. This is a problem. Vaccine companies and pharmaceutical companies want to make their money. Well not at my expense.
I also find it quite interesting to see the number of well known and respected doctors out there who are against getting the flu vaccine. Dr Donald Miller, a cardiac surgeon and professor of surgery at the University of Washington advises people to avoid the flu shot at all costs and take vitamin D instead. Dr John Cannel hypothesized that influenza is merely a symptom of vitamin D deficiency, and that theory was further proven in Virology Journal. The flu season is during the winter months when it is hard to get enough vitamin D, and this makes sense. Dr Mercola also has quite a bit to say online about vitamin D being a much better and safer way to prevent the flu than the vaccine. So what if one of these doctors were my personal doctor? I would certainly want to follow their medical advice. Would I be forced not to according to hospital policy? I would argue that I would have a medical exemption as well if my own doctor advised against it.
I recently saw an interview with a board certified internist named Suzanne Humphries. She had some very scary statistics to share. According to her research, if you get the flu vaccine one year, your risk of getting the flu the next year is higher. Not only that, but a higher risk of getting a pandemic strain, and also a higher risk of spreading the virus for a longer period of time - all a result of what the flu vaccine did to your immune system the year before. This is proven in medical literature that she shares in her talks. According to her, someone who gets the flu vaccine is at higher risk for getting the flu than someone who has never had the vaccine. If this is true, the hospital may want to rethink their plan on preventing the flu.
Not only does researching this topic scare me, but I have had a good friend of mine have her entire life change as a result of getting a "mandatory" flu shot at the Brigham. I will leave her name out of this for her privacy, but I worked with this nurse on Shapiro 6W. She had the flu shot in September of 2009, and just days later was bed ridden with a very severe illness. She could not get out of bed for weeks. She ended up going to multiple doctors and having multiple tests run... yet her condition was not improving. To this day, she is unable to work as a nurse. She now has several syndromes that she had never had before, and she has never regained the energy and vibrance she had her entire life before receiving that flu shot. Is it PROVEN that the flu shot caused all this? No, but none of her doctors are able to say it definitely had nothing to do with it either. She is convinced it had everything to do with it, and that is enough for me not to want it. Yet, the hospital finds it necessary to force this risk on others.
But let's get to my religious exemption. I am a Christian who firmly believes in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for my sins and rose from the dead. I believe He is my Savior and will follow Him always. The Bible is full of scripture talking about how we are to treat our bodies and live our best life. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" If my body is God's temple, then I am to treat it with utmost respect and care, which I try to do with a healthy lifestyle. I do not smoke, do drugs or drink alcohol in excess because I know these things are harmful to my body. I exercise and eat right, not only to feel good, but to honor God by treating my body as a gift from Him. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says "...you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." My body is a gift from God, and I will treat it as such by honoring His Word.
2 Corinthians 7:1 says "...let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." God is the image of purity and vitality. Vaccination is the forcible procedure of putting foreign proteins in our bodies. With the research that is out there stating possible harm to the body's immune system due to this vaccine, this clearly goes against scripture as something that should be put in my body. Scripture clearly warns against defiling our bodies. We are commanded to keep these temples clean, pure and holy. There is no scriptural support for injecting dead viruses, preservatives or any other possible toxin into our bloodstream to prevent disease. Deuteronomy chapter 14 and Leviticus chapter 11 tell of the laws of nature God has given, and shows that our bodies cannot tolerate foreign substances and unclean proteins. However, the Bible is full of information of how to properly care for your body in a God-honoring way, along with all you need to know in living a rewarding life.
God created everything we need on this earth to keep us healthy and well, yet we don't always use it. He created plants that produce fresh vegetables and fruits for us to eat. He created cattle, chicken and fish for us to thrive on. He created bodies that are able to move and keep us well with physical activity. He created herbs and spices with healing properties. He created clean water for us to drink. He created sunlight for vitamin D, and night time for refreshing sleep. God created all these things to keep us well and safeguard us from destruction. God's laws of nature determine what our bodies can and cannot tolerate. Not man. Romans 12:1-2 says "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." I cannot conform to man telling me to inject a vaccine into my body that is God's holy temple. This does not fit with the teachings in the Bible. You see, when man thinks he is smarter than God and has better solutions for things, this gives rise to sin, pride, and ultimately destruction (Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death"). In 1 Corinthians chapter 8, Paul urges respect for the conscience of others. Any laws restricting conscientious objection to practices that conflict with religious belief are unethical. I believe this to be such.
If we look again at the fact that this is all money driven by the vaccine companies, this is technically greed. People can do crazy things when it comes to money. They don't care what the effects are on others, as long as they make their money. The Bible is full of scripture warning against the evil of greed when it comes to money. They are bullying people and threatening with taking away funding to the hospital so they can make money on their vaccines. We talk about anti-bullying in the hospital, yet this is exactly what's going on here. Nurses are being bullied into taking a vaccine that could potentially harm them, or else they could lose their job. This is corruption... not much different than what goes on in the food industry. Back in the 1960's the sugar industry paid scientists large amounts of money to fund research that downplayed the role of sugar in heart disease and blamed fat. We now know this not to be true, but for years we all believed it because someone behind the scenes was pushing their agenda and bribing people with money. And no one cared about the health effects of all those people who believed the lies. I have spent a great deal of time trying to help people see through this in the food industry to promote better health. How do I sit back and watch this now? Greed and bullying... that is sin. The Bible warns against this. As Christians, we are not supposed to just go along with sinful behavior. Ephesians 5:11 says "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret". Time to take a stand against it. Psalm 94:16 "Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand for me against those who practice iniquity?" I simply cannot condone and go along with all of this. People can say this is about trying to keep people safe and well all they want, but everything about this goes against what the Bible teaches when you look at what is really going on. It's not okay and does not go along with my religious beliefs, or my beliefs as a nurse who is to promote health to my patients.
And what about free will? God Himself gives us free will to choose or reject Him. The Bible is full of scripture about free will (John 1:12, John 7:17, 1 Corinthians 10:23, Revelation 3:20, and many more). Why is it that the God of the universe makes Himself available to all, yet does not force Himself on anyone, but the hospital is forcing people to have something injected into their body? Crazy. God does not push his goodness, love, or gift of eternal life on any of us, yet hospitals want to force the injection of a questionable vaccine that could have damaging effects onto their staff. The flu shot should be available to anyone who chooses to get it, but it should not be FORCED on anyone.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I live by these principles. I am someone who practices what I preach when it comes to my faith in God, and also in all things health and fitness. Am I always perfect with it all? Of course not. I am a fallen sinful person like the rest of us who makes mistakes. And that is why I need a savior. But I try my best to follow these things and live my life as a positive example. I think it is fair to say that I have spread more benefit in terms of health and wellness to my co-workers and patients over the years rather than think of myself as a danger of spreading illness from refusing a flu shot.
Thank you for your time and for accepting my religious exemption. Please also consider the impact this has on so many other nurses who may feel the same, yet not quite sure how to articulate this.
Terri Wentzell RN, BSN
Certified Personal Trainer
Fitness Nutrition Coach
Hey there! So It was brought to my attention recently that a few people were requesting a list of pantry items to always have in stock in your home. This is a GREAT question to ask. We all want to eat right and be able to make things on the fly that are good for us, so we must start with a well stocked pantry or we'll be out of luck every time and always needing a grocery store run! We don't want that.
Having a well stocked pantry is key. You need certain essentials on hand to be able to make your favorite healthy recipes at anytime. Obviously, you may need to run out for the fresh items if you don't have them at the moment, but things that will keep well in a cabinet or pantry are so key in being prepared for healthy meal planning. I will share with you a list of a few of my favorite go-to's (in no particular order) when it comes to absolute necessity for me to have on hand in my own house. Most of these are listed on my Amazon Store, and I will share links for where to buy the brands I like so you know.
Item #1: Ground flax seed or flax seed meal. This is such a great thing to keep on hand because you can add it to so many different recipes and add amazing health benefits without even really noticing it's there. Flax seed is loaded with fiber and also a good source of Omega 3's. I add this to many recipes, including my protein bars, breakfast-to-go muffins, peanut butter protein cookies, and better-for-you banana bread. I also add this to my smoothies sometimes, or on old fashioned or steel cut oatmeal if I choose. Basically, it's an easy way to make almost anything a little bit healthier. :-) You can store it in a cabinet or pantry, but you may get a longer shelf life out of it if stored in the refrigerator (although some of us go through it too fast to matter... haha!). You can purchase them by clicking HERE.
Item #2: Chia Seeds. These are another super easy healthy item to have on hand. These are also a great source of Omega 3's. Not only that, but they are also full of antioxidants, fiber and protein. These are one of the ingredients in my breakfast-to-go muffins, and they are also great to have on hand to add to smoothies (warning: they can get stuck in your teeth, so keep a look out!). You can also make chia pudding with these that can be very yummy (recipe for that coming soon!). They will last quite a while in your pantry. You can find them HERE.
Item #3: Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein. I just love this stuff. Whey protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is one of the two proteins in milk (casein and whey). Whey can be separated from the casein in milk, or formed as a by product of cheese. It is relatively low in lactose, but still some people with milk allergies may have issues with this. Whey protein helps rebuild muscle, may help reduce inflammation, may help lower blood pressure, and it is highly satiating, meaning it can help you stay fuller longer. Check out this article by Authority Nutrition for more. I specifically love using Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein simply because it only has one ingredient - whey! Many whey proteins in health food stores can contain a lot of added ingredients that are not always great to be consuming, so for me... less is more. :-) I use this for TONS of recipes on my blog, and more. And if you want a chocolate protein powder for something, try using this and adding some cacao powder (but be careful.. sometimes adding too much cacao powder can give a bitter taste!). You can buy Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein right HERE.
Item #4: Raw Organic Cacao Powder. This is a must especially if you are a chocolate lover (like me!). Raw cacao is a great source of antioxidants, magnesium and iron. This is why a bit of dark chocolate is actually considered a good thing in your life. But how great is it to be able to make your own recipes at home adding cacao powder for a yummy chocolate taste with the added benefits! I add this to my Homemade Protein Bars and many other recipes. The possibilities are endless!
Item #5: Shredded Coconut. Shredded coconut is useful in so many ways. Not only is it great for baking, but also adding to many cooking recipes for your everyday eating. It's a healthy addition providing healthy fats and good energy. I always have some on hand!!! This kind is my favorite, but any shredded coconut you like will do just fine.
Item #6: Healthy Cooking Fats. You need to make sure you always have some good healthy fats available to do your cooking and baking. My favorite go-to's for this are Unrefined Coconut Oil , Ghee, and Coconut Ghee (my favorite... a blend of the two!). Butter from grass-fed cows is also a good choice (please no margarine!!!). I absolutely love Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well, but I try not to do much cooking with it since it has a relatively low smoke point. I use it for some low to medium heat cooking, but mostly for dressings and marinades. Please stay away from using vegetable oil. It is linked to too many health problems that you don't want or need. I would also avoid canola oil since about 80-90% of it is produced from genetically modified plants. I don't want that, and neither should you. And if you are scared to use these suggested items because of saturated fats, you need to look at current research. Saturated fats are not the enemy
Item #7: Coconut Flour. Coconut flour is a great alternative for healthy cooking when you're trying to avoid regular flour or if you are gluten free. I use it for many of my baking recipes and even when cooking some meals. It is high in fiber and helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level. But be aware! Coconut flour is extremely absorbent, and you will need much less than regular flour in any given recipe. You will only use roughly 1/4 - 1/3 cup of coconut flour for every cup of regular all purpose flour. You can find coconut flour HERE. I use it in my Better-For-You Banana Bread and many other recipes.
So I hope this is a start. Of course, I could go on for pages here, and maybe I will do a second installment of this blog post at a later date. But for now, I hope you find this helpful. Now go make some healthy food with all this stuff!!! :-)
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.