Opposition from nurses association falls on deaf ears
Monday, August 3, 2009
A New York State health authority has adopted a regulation that mandates every health care worker in the state to be vaccinated against influenza.
The news was announced last week by the New York State Hospital Planning and Review Council, despite overwhelming opposition from the nation’s oldest and largest state professional association for registered nurses.
The council adopted the proposal as an emergency rule that could go into effect before this winter’s flu season, according to a report by EndoNurse Magazine .
The policy will effect all healthcare workers, including volunteers, that have any contact with patients whether it be in hospitals, treatment centers, home care programs or hospices.
The ruling discounts any exemption from immunization for religious or cultural preferences.
The New York State Nurses Association  described the council’s action as a “scorched earth” approach during testimony.
“While we encourage nurses to be immunized for the flu, we do not agree that nurses should be required to get immunizations as a condition of employment,” said Eileen Avery, RN, associate director of the association’s Education, Practice & Research Program.
“The seasonal flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective and sometimes is highly ineffective, as it was in 2005 and 2007,” Avery said. “There is no guarantee that in any given year, the public will benefit from mandatory immunization of healthcare providers.”
Avery also described the move as “effectively blocking” any individuals who are opposed to vaccines from earning their livelihood.
(Article continues below)
Calls for increased vaccination have been spurred by the ongoing H1N1 outbreak, which has also seen new regulations put in place to provide pharmaceutical companies with blanket immunity from lawsuits.
“Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius,” reported the Associated Press  last month.
Although no formal announcement has yet been made, it has been suggested by health authorities that the upcoming mass public vaccination program against H1N1 will be mandatory .
As reported by CNS News  last month, a health-care reform bill approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee called The Affordable Health Choices Act, will fund the creation of state “intervention” teams that will carry out home visits in order to check that both children and adults have been vaccinated and also provide “provision of immunizations”.