Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Flu Shots Should Not Be Mandatory

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Flu Shots Should Not Be Mandatory

Article excerpt

The New York State Nurses Association supports the principle that health care personnel should receive the flu vaccine each year for their own protection. Immunization is one of the primary methods of preventing influenza infection.

There is a significant difference, however, between choosing to get a flu shot and being forced to get one. According to a regulation adopted by the New York State Department of Health, health care workers will lose their jobs if they refuse to be immunized. There is no provision for workers to refuse for religious or philosophical reasons.

We oppose the punitive nature of this regulation, especially as mandatory flu shots for health care workers will not stop the spread of the flu. For one thing, a flu shot does not guarantee that you won't get influenza. The seasonal vaccine is not effective when it is poorly matched with the virus circulating in the population. Other infection control methods must be in place.

The New York State health department claims its mandate is necessary to protect patients. It does not, however, require immunizations for the numerous other people who come into contact with patients. No one knows how many patients contract flu from health care workers. If exposure is the basis of transmission, patients are much more likely to be infected by close contact with their visitors.

We prefer a reasoned, comprehensive approach that will increase the rate of immunized health care personnel and reduce the spread of influenza within health care facilities. …

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