Monday, October 19, 2009

[NY] Judge Halts Flu Vaccine Mandate For Health Workers

Oct 16, 2009 3:13 pm US/Eastern

New York Health Care Employees Won't Be Forced To Get H1N1 Vaccine...For Now


Health care workers in New York will no longer be forced to get the
H1N1 swine flu vaccine, CBS 2 has learned.

A state Supreme Court judge issued a restraining order Friday against
the state from enforcing the controversial mandatory vaccination.

The order came as the Public Employees Federation sued to reverse a
policy requiring vaccination against the seasonal and swine flu
viruses, arguing that state Health Commissioner Richard Daines
overstepped his authority.

Three parties - the Public Employees Federaion, New York State United
Teachers, and an attorney representing four Albany nurses - challenged
the order and for now the vaccination for nurses, doctors, aides, and
non-medical staff members who might be in a patient's room will remain

The health department had said the workers must be vaccinated by
November 30 or face possible disciplinary action, including dismissal.
PEF said it encourages members to get flu vaccinations, but opposes
the emergency regulation requiring the vaccine as a condition of

A judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday morning, PEF
spokeswoman Debbie Miles said. A court hearing is scheduled for
October 30.

New York was the first state in the country to initially mandate flu
vaccinations for its health care workers, but many health care workers
quickly protested against the ruling. In Hauppauge, workers outside a
local clinic screamed "No forced shots!" when the mandate came down at
the end of September.

"I don't even tend to the sick. I am in the nutrition field. They are
telling me I must get the shot because I work in a health clinic
setting," said Paula Small, a Women, Infants and Children health care

Small said she would refuse to be vaccinate, worried the vaccine is
untested and unproven, leaving her vulnerable. In 1976, there were
some deaths associated with a swine flu vaccination.

Registered nurse Frank Mannino, 50, was also angry. He said the state
regulation violates his personal freedom and civil rights.

"And now I will lose my job if I don't take the regular flu shot or
the swine flu shot."

When asked if he's willing to lose his job, Mannino said, "Absolutely.
I will not take it, will not be forced. This is still America."

The protest also shook Albany. Hundreds of demonstrators demanded
freedom of choice. After all, as health care professionals, they argue
they're already constantly washing their hands and aren't likely to
transmit or contract the flu.

Around 500,000 health care workers would have been slated to receive
the vaccine

"It's certainly their prerogative to voice their opinion," said Dr.
Susan Donelan of Stony Brook University Hospital.

Donelan said most in the medical community see the benefits and safety
of the shots and welcome them, and that hospitals must obey the law.

"Our hospital is committed to following the mandate to have our
personnel vaccinated," she said.

The state said change was needed this year to save lives. Typically
only about 45 percent of health care workers take advantage of
voluntary flu vaccines.

More than 150 institutional outbreaks of seasonal and H1N1 flu are
expected this year in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice centers.

There is also a strong resistance to the vaccine from the general
public. A new Harvard University poll shows that only four in 10
adults intend to take the vaccine themselves, and only six in 10 plan
to give it to their children.

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