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 Judge Halts Mandatory Flu Vaccines for Health Care Workers 
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 Judge Halts Mandatory Flu Vaccines for Health Care Workers
Oh YEH YAH - Doin' the happy dance!!!!!

Updated, 1:27 p.m. | A judge on Friday morning halted enforcement of a New York State directive requiring that all health care workers be vaccinated for the seasonal flu and swine flu.

The temporary restraining order by the judge, Thomas J. McNamara, an acting justice of the State Supreme Court in Albany, is likely to add to the growing debate about the flu vaccine.

Justice McNamara scheduled a hearing on the case for Oct. 30.

On Aug. 13, the state health commissioner, Dr. Richard F. Daines, through the State Hospital Review and Planning Council, issued a regulation ordering health care workers to be vaccinated by Nov. 30 or face fines.

Dr. Daines said at the time:

Questions about safety and claims of personal preference are understandable. Given the outstanding efficacy and safety record of approved influenza vaccines, our overriding concern then, as health care workers, should be the interests of our patients, not our own sensibilities about mandates. On this, the facts are very clear: the welfare of patients is, without any doubt, best served by the very high rates of staff immunity that can only be achieved with mandatory influenza vaccination – not the 40-50 percent rates of staff immunization historically achieved with even the most vigorous of voluntary programs. Under voluntary standards, institutional outbreaks occur every flu season. Medical literature convincingly demonstrates that high levels of staff immunity confer protection on those patients who cannot be or have not been effectively vaccinated themselves, while also allowing the institution to remain more fully staffed.

Terence L. Kindlon, a lawyer for three nurses who sued the state, asserting that the order violated their civil rights, said the judge’s ruling was a victory. New York was the only state in the country to mandate vaccinations for health care workers, he said.

The nurses — Lorna Patterson, Kathryn Dupuis and Stephanie Goertz — work in the emergency room at Albany Medical Center, a regional trauma unit.

These are not libertarians, they are not lefties, they are not right-wing lunatics,” Mr. Kindlon said of his clients in a phone interview on Friday. “They are health care professionals, and they think the vaccination is not going to be good for them. They have no confidence that either the seasonal flu vaccine or H1N1 vaccine is going to do any good for them.”

Justice McNamara consolidated the nurses’ suit with two other lawsuits, brought by the New York State Public Employees Federation and the New York State United Teachers Union, which also challenged the regulation.

Mr. Kindlon said of his clients: “They basically were being administratively ambushed. This regulation came out of the Health Department during the dog days of August. People weren’t aware of it until September. Then they were suddenly advised that the drop-dead rate for receiving the vaccination from the state was Nov. 30.”

The hospital imposed its own deadline — mid-October — for vaccinations for its employees, Mr. Kindlon said. :nono

The state is all but certain to fight the lawsuits and seek enforcement of the mandate. At a legislative hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Guthrie Birkhead, a state deputy health commissioner, defended the mandate, saying, “Health care settings are no different than any other setting where vaccination is the most effective method of preventing influenza.” :censor

The issue of mandatory vaccinations has divided health care workers and even experts. The New York State Nurses Association, for example, has been monitoring the situation but not taken an official position against the requirement.

The Public Employees Federation, which has about 5,000 members covered by the regulations, said it encouraged its members to be vaccinated against the flu but opposed making the vaccine a condition of employment.

Patricia Finn, a lawyer for Suzanne Field, a nurse from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who has filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan challenging the mandatory vaccinations, said on Friday that her case would proceed despite the Albany restraining order, but added about the temporary restraining order:

We’re absolutely thrilled about it. I’m very pleased that the whole process has been slowed down. That’s what we’re so concerned about, the process of vaccinating. It’s not like getting your teeth cleaned; it’s pretty serious. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. So we were happy about this.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Fri Oct 16, 2009 11:22 am
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Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:21 am
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Post Re: Judge Halts Mandatory Flu Vaccines for Health Care Workers
I'm joining in your happy dance, BB!

New York Rescinds Mandatory Flu Shots For HCWs

# 3872

Citing a shortage of vaccine, New York State officials overnight announced a suspension of newly enacted rule requiring HCWs (Health Care Workers) to be vaccinated against the H1N1 flu.

Although unstated, one can’t help but wonder what effect pending lawsuits, employee protests, and growing unrest among the ranks of HCWs had on this decision.

While New York was the only state to mandate flu vaccination for HCWs, the suspension of that ruling doesn’t mean the issue has gone away.

* Some hospitals around the nation have adopted mandatory vaccination – or require the wearing of masks by unvaccinated workers during flu season.
* APIC (Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology) has been promoting the idea of mandatory flu shots for HCWs for over a year (see APIC Seeking Mandatory Flu Shot For HCWs)
* And the New York State Health Department indicates that they will pursue mandatory vaccination again in 2010, assuming adequate vaccine supplies are available.

I strongly support the idea that HCWs should get vaccinated, but I fall short of wanting to see that mandated. At least for now. (See Public Support For Mandatory HCW Vaccination).

Forcing vaccinations during a time when the majority of workers perceive the vaccine to be `untested and unsafe’ (it isn’t) seemed to me to be terrible timing and almost certain to backfire.

That said, I fully expect to see other facilities, and states, pursue mandatory vaccinations in the years to come. Like it or not, this appears to be the wave of the future.

Some of my recent blogs on this subject include:

HCWs: Refusing To Bare Arms
NY: Considering Mandating Flu Vaccinations For HCWs
BJC: Mandatory Flu Shots For HCWs

UK: Unvaccinated Health Care Workers Spread Flu

Ongoing Debate: Mandatory Flu Shots For Health Care Workers?

This report from the AP on the lifting of the mandate for flu shots.

NY officials rescind mandatory H1N1 flu shot order

By VALERIE BAUMAN (AP) – 8 hours ago

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state health officials have suspended a ruling that would have forced health care workers across the state to get vaccinated against the swine flu by the end of November or risk losing their jobs, saying in a decision issued Thursday that they did so because the vaccine is in short supply.

New York will be getting only about 23 percent of its anticipated supply of the vaccine for the swine flu virus — also called H1N1 — by the end of the month, and that should be reserved for those most at risk for serious illness and death, according to Gov. David Paterson's office.

"New evidence is showing that H1N1 can be especially virulent to pregnant women and young people — so they should get vaccinated first," said Dr. Richard Daines, the state health commissioner.

(Continue ) ... shots.html

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." ~ Albert Einstein

Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:21 am
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