Safety

Healthcare workers rally against mandatory flu shots in NY

Hospital Safety Insider, September 30, 2009

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Opposition continues in New York state to a mandatory order that all hospital workers with direct patient care duties receive the seasonal and H1N1 vaccinations.
 
On Tuesday, hundreds of healthcare workers, civil rights proponents, and anti-vaccine representatives rallied against the vaccinations at the state capitol building in Albany, reported USA Today.
 
Historically, only about 42% of healthcare workers in the country obtain an annual flu shot, so it’s no surprise a mandatory rule has sparked controversy in New York. Some nurses there, for example, are against the H1N1 shots because they say there’s no proof the inoculations will protect people, according to USA Today.
 
But State Health Commission Richard Daines said the vaccines are an effective way to prevent the spread of seasonal and H1N1 flu in hospitals, he told USA Today.
 
The New York rule requires all workers in healthcare facilities to receive seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines as a condition of employment. The regulation notes that “healthcare facilities” include general hospitals and diagnostic treatment centers, and it does not include private physician offices or nursing homes. The action applies to:
  • All medical staff members and others who have direct contact with patients
  • Staff members that, if they are infected with the flu, could expose patients to the illness
The rule exempts workers who don’t have contact with patients and people whose health would suffer from receiving the vaccine.
 
Enforcement of the rule has been a lingering question. It will be up to hospitals to decide what actions to take for employees who refuse the flu shots, Daines told USA Today.
 
Federal OSHA requires hospitals to provide hepatitis B vaccines to healthcare workers, though employees may refuse the vaccine by signing a declination form.
 
Our sister blog, OSHA Healthcare Advisor, is your best source for in-depth coverage of the flu vaccination debate.
 



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