The State Supreme Court granted a restraining order to a public employee’s union on Friday blocking an emergency regulation mandating seasonal and H1N1 (swine) flu shots for nurses, doctors, aides, and non-medical personnel who have patient contact. The Public Employees Federation represents 5,000 members who would be mandated to get shots by November 30 or face possible loss of their jobs. PEF says that they encourage members to take the shots, but don’t believe the State Health Commissioner has the authority to force them to. New York is the only state with a mandatory vaccination policy for healthcare workers.
There have been protests since the mandate was announced, with some healthcare workers concerned about the safety of the new vaccine, which was developed, tested and approved in less than a year. The state says it’s trying to head off the 150 outbreaks in healthcare facilities it projects this year, and to protect vulnerable patients from infection. The CDC says that deaths due to H1N1 have already reached epidemic levels.
The NYS Union of Teachers and the NYCLU also support voluntary vaccination, but oppose the mandate.