DÄ internationalArchive11/2010A Step Further Towards Former GDR-Style Rules
LNSLNS Having read the article about influenza vaccination of medical personnel I can’t help but perceive the German healthcare sector as one step further towards a situation resembling that in the former German Democratic Republic. I left that country for political reasons, and I would rather not see a repeat performance in this day and age. The symbolism of having to wear compulsory face masks for critical medical personnel for higher (socioethical) reasons, by offering vaccination when this is quite obviously clashing with the staff’s personal convictions, can probably be understood only by someone who has first-hand experience of similar situations within a system that is closed to the outside.

However, the question that is obvious to me is what limitations are there in terms of what are “tolerable” therapeutic interventions for medical staff? Whatever the limits are, they should be respected and adhered to in the future, thus balancing personal rights with (often only seemingly) general interest. If, as the authors have found, people were not convinced on the basis of arguments in favour of widespread use of influenza vaccination, then it is particularly in the interest of achieving hospital hygiene that democratic principles—such as discussions—are not easily sacrificed—or else the medically beneficial face mask may too easily turn into a symbolic muzzle.
DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0193b

Dr. med. Stefan Kothe
Feldmühlenweg 43
59494 Soest, Germany
weissflogkothe@t-online.de
1.
Wicker S, Rabenau HF, Kempf V, Brandt C: Vaccination against classical influenza in health-care workers: self-protection and patient protection [Impfung gegen die klassische Influenza bei medizinischem Personal: Selbstschutz und Patientenschutz]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(36): 567–72. VOLLTEXT
1. Wicker S, Rabenau HF, Kempf V, Brandt C: Vaccination against classical influenza in health-care workers: self-protection and patient protection [Impfung gegen die klassische Influenza bei medizinischem Personal: Selbstschutz und Patientenschutz]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(36): 567–72. VOLLTEXT