The vast majority of doctors refuse the flu shot: another wilful myth from the AVN

Meryl Dorey has been on a bit of a roll of late. At the same time I have been a bit derelict in my duty, but, Dorey rolled out another canard today: a piece of misinformation about influenza vaccine uptake amongst doctors, on which she has been corrected before. Being corrected never stops Dorey: she just waits until enough time has passed, and the canards get regurgitated again. I use that term in an almost literal sense.

Linking to an execrable anti-vaccination site Child Health Safety, which claims that the publication of the reality of influenza deaths is some kind of government plot, Dorey had this to say:

The vast majority of doctors refuse flu shots

Oh, hello again Majority of Doctors Refuse Flu Shots Gambit. We haven’t seen you for at least a few months.

I’m not interested, here, in investigating the crankery from the blog post linked by Dorey. Here is why: in its frothing denialism CHS states, of influenza deaths, “In many years the true figure is there are no deaths”. That’s enough for anyone to stop reading such drivel.

What I do want to look at is Dorey’s claim. As we’ve seen the claim before, several times, we know it just isn’t true. We know that the main reasons for low uptake amongst doctors (which is quite inexcusable in itself, being the system failure that it is), are lack of time and access to workplace immunisation. So I did a very quick search.

Here is an article from the Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 32 No 4 – December 2008: Influenza immunisation of doctors at an Australian tertiary hospital: immunisation rate and factors contributing to uptake.


We have found a disappointingly low immunisation rate among RDH doctors for influenza in 2007 (28%), and a significant number of doctors who have never received influenza immunisation (28%). The only significant predictor of having been immunised in 2007 were higher age and more senior level, and the most common reasons cited for not being immunised were lack of time and inconvenience. We also found a higher level of knowledge about influenza immunisation was strongly associated with ever having received immunisation.

And this table spells it out a little more clearly, for the likes of Dorey and others who want to peddle this myth:

So, it’s really the minority of doctors who refuse the influenza vaccine? Fancy that, as Tim Minchin might ponder.

The article is only a small sample size, in one hospital, but it is consistent with other more recent findings. I’ve used it as an example to show that: Meryl Dorey’s claim is wrong; she knows it is wrong; and, she will keep making this wrong claim.

Some might plead ignorance for her. Not me. This is a wilful mistruth, intended to dissuade members of our community from receiving the influenza vaccine, by claiming that those who administer the vaccine, in the majority, refuse this vaccine for themselves.

About reasonable hank

I'm reasonable, mostly.
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