Thursday, October 15, 2009

[NY] Judge to hear arguments on mandatory flu shots:

OCTOBER 14, 2009

Health care workers who are challenging a directive by New York state’s health commissioner requiring them to get swine flu shots will get their day in court next week — but in the meantime, the commissioner’s order remains in effect.

That was the outcome of a hearing on the issue today in Manhattan in a lawsuit brought by a nurse from LaGrange, Suzanne Field, according to Field’s attorney, Patricia Finn.

At the hearing, Finn asked state Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Diamond to issue a temporary restraining order barring state Health Commissioner Richard Daines from enforcing the order.

The judge denied that request, Finn said, but scheduled another hearing for Oct. 22 to determine if she ought to issue a preliminary injunction overriding the health commissioner’s directive.

Finn said she planned to call Field and several other health care workers to testify at the hearing.

“I’m not surprised the judge didn’t order the (temporary restraining order) because that would have been an extraordinary remedy,” Finn said.

“She didn’t share our sense of urgency, but we’re pleased the judge seemed concerned and very informed and helped the parties frame the issues to be argued next week,” the attorney said.

This fall, New York became the first state to require most doctors, nurses and health care aides — an estimated 60,000 health care workers — to get a vaccine for both the seasonal flu and the new H1N1 flu (commonly known as swine flu) if they want to stay on the job.

In a prepared statement issued earlier Wednesday, Daines said he was prepared to “vigorously defend this lawsuit.” The commissioner said he and members of the State Hospital Review and Planning Council believe they have “clear legal authority to promulgate the mandatory influenza vaccination regulation to protect the public health.”

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