At the end of July, according to Crain’s, NY State proposed that flu vaccination be made mandatory for health care workers.
Alex Jones reports that the proposal was ratified early this month, over the objection of the NY State Nurses’ Association.
Word on the street is that NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is now getting into mandatory vaccination in a big way. It is strong-arming medical centers into forcing their staff to undergo flu vaccination, telling administrators, we hear, that they would be required to fire employees who refuse to undergo flu immunization. And the mandate would extend beyond direct-care personnel, to include general staff — anyone who might come into contact with a patient.
Since specific vaccine against H1N1 flu is not yet ready, the current plans are said to be for mandatory vaccination against seasonal flu; presumably swine flu vaccine would be added if it becomes available.
No official substantiation yet of the NYC officials’ actions — in fact, we really hope we’re wrong on this. But we notice that requiring universal vaccination for health care workers would not be out of line with the city’s Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan — especially chapter 7, “Vaccine Management.”
Clearly, a plan to require immunization of all health care workers — in a city whose health care workforce numbers in the hundreds of thousands — could be a boon to the vaccine makers.
Would it help the public? If this coming flu season is mild, universal immunization of medical-center staff will be at least partly superfluous.
If there’s a widespread outbreak of virulent flu, the effectiveness of mandatory vaccination in health care centers would depend on the current level of flu-immunization coverage among med-center staff. As many caregivers routinely undergo seasonal-flu immunization anyway, it isn’t clear that mandatory immunization orders would add any public health value to the current situation.
So far, there hasn’t been much outcry from the public health profession. Perhaps that will change as we get into autumn.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 at 7:13 pm and is filed under Disease, Health Professions, News, Physicians, public health, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.